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Daily Update - 8/27/09
Meteorite Examination Continues
Opportunity Status for sol 1981-1987

Opportunity is continuing its contact investigation of the 70-centimeter (28-inch) meteorite called "Block Island."

On Sol 1981 (Aug. 20, 2009), the rover performed a very small rotation that moved the robotic arm (instrument deployment device, or IDD) in azimuth to reach new targets on the meteorite. On the next sol, the IDD collected a stack of microscopic imager (MI) images of new targets and then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) onto a target.

The IDD changed tools the following sol from the APXS to the Moessbauer (MB) spectrometer and placed it on the target "Siahs Swamp2" for a multi-sol integration. On Sol 1986 (Aug. 25, 2009), the MB was retracted and an ambitious MI imaging campaign, including stereo imaging, was performed on the surface of the meteorite. At the end of that, the MB was replaced for continued integration.

The shroud of the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (Mini-TES) continues to be left open on scheduled sols to allow the environment to clean putative dust contamination from the elevation mirror. No improvement in Mini-TES performance has been observed so far, but the rover has seen no wind events.

As of Sol 1986 (Aug. 25, 2009), Opportunity's solar-array energy production was 453 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (tau) of 0.526 and a dust factor of 0.550. The rover's total odometry was 17,229.16 meters (10.71 miles).

Daily Update - 8/27/09
Regional Dust Storm
Spirit Status for sol 2002-2008

Spirit continues to profile the geology at her embedded location, called "Troy," on the west side of Home Plate. However, the rover is currently affected by a large regional dust storm.

Although orbital observations indicate the storm is abating, the skies over Gusev crater are expected to remaining dusty for several sols. As a result, the rover team has been conservative with Spirit's planning, keeping energy consumption low and maintaining high states of charge in the batteries until the skies clear.

Spirit began the week continuing a long Moessbauer (MB) integration of the surface target "Polyphemus Eye." On Sol 2006 (Aug. 24, 2009), Sprit initiated a set of penetrometer experiments to directly measure physical properties of the embedding soil. The rock abrasion tool (RAT) was pressed into the soil at three different pre-load levels of force. The resulting indentation (soil penetration) after each pre-load was then documented with a set of images. Also on the same sol an atmospheric argon measurement was collected with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS), and the MB was placed for another multi-sol integration.

On Earth, testing is being done with two different-weight rovers, the full-weight surface system testbed (SSTB) rover and the near Mars-weight SSTB Lite rover, in two different soil simulants. Testing with both rovers will help determine the effects of different gravity on Earth-based test results, all in preparation for the first extraction moves on Mars.

Atmospheric conditions have deteriorated owing to the large regional dust storm. As of Sol 2007 (Aug. 25, 2009), Spirit's solar-array energy production was precipitously down to 322 watt-hours, with a large increase in the atmospheric opacity (tau) to 2.61. The dust factor declined to 0.658, meaning that about 65.8 percent of the sunlight hitting the solar array penetrates through the dust on the array. Spirit's total odometry remains at 7,729.93 meters (4.80 miles).

Daily Update - 8/20/09
More Targets at 'Block Island'
Opportunity Status for sol 1974-1980

Opportunity is continuing its in-situ (contact) investigation of the 70-centimeter (28-inch) meteorite called "Block Island."

On Sol 1974 (Aug. 13, 2009), robotic arm (IDD) work on ground in front of the meteorite completed with a microscopic imager (MI) mosaic of pebbles called "Vail Beach" at the foot of Block Island.

On the next sol, Opportunity bumped closer to Block Island by about 40 centimeters (16 inches). This puts other meteorite surface targets within reach of the rover's robotic arm. On Sol 1976 (Aug. 15, 2009), the MI collected a mosaic of the target "Purple Patch," then placed the Moessbauer (MB) spectrometer for a long integration. On Sol 1979 (Aug. 18, 2009), the MI collected mosaics of a different target and then the arm positioned the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS).

The shroud of the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (Mini-TES) continues to be left open on scheduled sols to allow the environment to clean putative dust contamination from the elevation mirror. No improvement in Mini-TES performance has been observed so far, but the rover has seen no wind events.

As of Sols 1979 and 1980 (Aug. 18 and 19, 2009), Opportunity's solar-array energy production was 467 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (tau) of 0.457 and a dust factor of 0.552. The rover's cumulative odometry on Sol 1980 was 17,229.16 meters (10.71 miles).

Daily Update - 8/20/09
More than 2,000 sols
Spirit Status for sol 1995-2001

Spirit has passed 2,000 sols on the surface of Mars, yet another milestone. Starting its third sol millennia, Spirit continues to profile the geology at the location where the rover is embedded, a site called "Troy" on the west side of "Home Plate."

On Sol 1995 (Aug. 13, 2009), Spirit continued the campaign of grinding deeper into surface targets, then collecting in situ (contact) measurements at each grind depth. The rock abrasion tool (RAT) executed a grind on the target "Polyphemus_Eye_2." Then the panoramic camera (Pancam) and the microscopic imager (MI) took images of where the grind had been performed, and the robotic arm placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) on the freshly-ground target. On the next sol, the rover changed tools to the Moessbauer (MB) spectrometer and placed it on the target for an overnight integration. The rover continued on the next sol with an MI mosaic of a different target, "Olive_Leaf," followed by an APXS placement on that target. On the following sol, the MB was placed on target Polyphemus for a multi-sol integration.

On Earth, the surface system testbed (SSTB) rover extraction testing continues in preparation for the first extraction moves on Mars.

Atmospheric conditions over Spirit have deteriorated owing to a regional dust storm. As of Sol 2001 (Aug. 19, 2009), the rover solar-array energy production was down to 744 watt-hours with atmospheric opacity (tau) increasing to 0.718 and the dust factor remaining around 0.8315. Spirit's total odometry remained at 7,729.93 meters (4.80 miles).

Daily Update - 8/13/09
Examining 'Block Island'
Opportunity Status for sol 1968-1973

Opportunity is conducting contact investigations of a meteorite called "Block Island," which is about two-thirds of a meter (2 feet) across.

On Sol 1968 (Aug. 6, 2009), the Moessbauer (MB) spectrometer was placed on the meteorite surface on a target called "New_Shoreham" for a multi-sol integration. On Sol 1970 (Aug. 8, 2009) the robotic arm (instrument deployment device, or IDD) moved the MB to a new target called "Clayhead_Swamp" for a long integration.

To check out some pebbles next to the meteorite and to line up for new targets on Block Island, Opportunity bumped backwards and then re-approached Block Island with a 2.5-meter (8-foot) movement on Sol 1973 (Aug. 12, 2009). At this new location Opportunity is positioned to investigate some very unusual features on the meteorite's surface.

The shroud of the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (Mini-TES) continues to be left open on scheduled sols to allow the environment to clean putative dust contamination from the elevation mirror. No improvement in Mini-TES performance has been observed so far, but the rover has seen no wind events.

Opportunity's solar array produced 475 watt-hours of energy on Sol 1973 (Aug. 12, 2009). Atmospheric opacity (tau) was 0.415. The dust factor on the solar array was 0.560, indicating that 56.0 percent of sunlight hitting the array penetrates the layer of accumulated dust on it. Total odometry was 17,228.74 meters (10.71 miles).

Daily Update - 8/13/09
Deeper Look into Soil Targets
Spirit Status for sol 1989-1994

Spirit continues to profile the geology at the rover's embedded location, called "Troy," on the west side of the low plateau called Home Plate.

On Sol 1990 (Aug. 8, 2009), Spirit continued the campaign of grinding deeper into surface targets, then collecting contact measurements at each grind depth. The rock abrasion tool (RAT) performed a grind on the target Cyclops_Eye_6, followed by imaging of the resulting surface by the panoramic camera (Pancam) and the microscopic imager (MI). The MI also took a new look at the underbelly of the rover to further assess possible obstruction by a rock underneath.

Before an attempt to have the robotic arm (instrument deployment device, or IDD) place the Moessbauer (MB) spectrometer on the surface, a command sequence fault occurred with the arm. This fault was explained as a benign error that occurs from time to time due to very small positioning errors in the IDD. With this error investigated, understood and cleared, the IDD went on to have the RAT perform a grind scan on Sol 1993 (Aug. 11, 2009) in preparation for another profile grind. On Earth, the surface system testbed (SSTB) rover extraction testing continues in preparation for Spirit's first extraction moves on Mars.

As of Sol 1994 (Aug. 12, 2009), Spirit's solar-array energy production is 895 watt-hours with atmospheric opacity (tau) of 0.352 and a dust factor of 0.844 on the solar array. Total odometry remains at 7,729.93 meters (4.80 miles).

Daily Update - 8/11/09
Meeting a Meteorite
Opportunity Status for sol 1960-1967

Opportunity has arrived at the large cobble called "Block Island," which is about two-thirds of a meter (2 feet) across. A 1.5-meter (5-foot) bump on Sol 1961 (July 31, 2009) put the rock in the work volume of the robotic arm (instrument deployment device, or IDD).

From Sols 1963 to 1967 (Aug. 1 to Aug. 5, 2009), Opportunity studied a series of surface targets on Block Island using the instruments on the IDD. Resulting data confirmed that the rock is an iron-nickel meteorite.

The shroud of the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (Mini-TES) continues to be left open on scheduled sols to allow the environment to clean putative dust contamination from the elevation mirror. No improvement in Mini-TES performance has been observed so far, but the rover has seen no wind events.

As of Sol 1967 (Aug. 5, 2009), Opportunity's solar-array energy production is 491 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (tau) of 0.547 and a solar-array dust factor of 0.586. The rover's total odometry is 17,226.29 meters (10.70 miles).

Daily Update - 8/11/09
Illumination Experiment and Other Studies
Spirit Status for sol 1981-1988

Spirit's examination of the soil around the rover using tools on the robotic arm (instrument deployment device, or IDD) continued this week with Moessbauer (MB) spectrometer on target "Cyclops Eye" and microscopic imaging of target "Penina." On Sol 1986 (Aug. 4, 2009), the rock abrasion tool (RAT) was prepared for grinding into the target Cyclops Eye on a later sol.

With the surplus of power, Spirit continues to perform science observations at a variety of times. This includes an illumination experiment, which consists of a set of navigation camera observations acquired at different times of day to help examine texture in the terrain. The resulting information could aid future driving.

On Earth, the surface system testbed (SSTB) rover extraction testing continues with end-to-end testing in differentiated soil in preparation to the first extraction moves on Mars.

As of Sol 1988 (Aug. 6, 2009), Spirit's solar array energy production is 907 watt-hours with atmospheric opacity (tau) of 0.330 and dust factor of 0.821 on the solar array. Total odometry remains at 7,729.93 meters (4.80 miles).

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