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Daily Update - 9/29/05
Spirit Reaches True Summit
Spirit Status for sol 614-619

Spirit is healthy and has provided a spectacular view from the top of "Husband Hill." The rover has acquired numerous panoramas from both the navigation camera and panoramic camera. Spirit took coordinated observations with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and observed the moons Phobos and Deimos at night. Spirit has reached the true summit, which is in the eastern portion of the nearly level hilltop crest that Spirit reached in late August. Plans are to drive to a good imaging location. From the new location, Spirit will acquire a panorama of the plains and valleys below.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 614 (Sept. 24, 2005): Spirit took a panorama of "Tennessee Valley," and performed targeted remote sensing and atmospheric science. A planned Moessbauer spectrometer reading was not completed, due to a sequencing error.

Sol 615: Spirit used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the compositional calibration target and took a picture of the compositional calibration target with the microscopic imager. The compositional calibration target provides an independent, external reference source for calibrating the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Moessbauer spectrometer. Both instruments also have their own internal calibration reference targets. The compositional calibration target is made of a piece of magnetite rock from Earth, bonded to an aluminum base plate and covered by a protective coating that the Moessbauer spectrometer cannot detect. On sol 615, Spirit also performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 616: Spirit drove about 10 meters (33 feet) towards the true summit and observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 617: Spirit took pictures from "Position 2" for a stereo panorama. Spirit also observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 618: Spirit drove 14 meters (46 feet) closer to "True Summit." Mid-drive, Spirit stopped to take a picture of a target called "Hillary." The informal name is in honor of Edmund Hillary. Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to climb to the top of Mount Everest. They reached the summit on May 29, 1953. That summit, at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) above sea level, is the highest place on Earth. The summit of Husband Hill is 106 meters (about 348 feet) above the Spirit landing site.

Sol 619: The plan is for Spirit to drive about 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) to the summit imaging location. Once at the new location, the plan is for Spirit to take a 360-degree panorama using the navigation camera.

As of the end of sol 618, (Sept. 29, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,973 meters (3.09 miles).



Daily Update - 9/23/05
Looking Over 'Tennessee Valley'
Spirit Status for sol 606-613

Spirit completed a campaign of using the tools on its robotic arm to examine the feature "Cliffhanger." Spirit scuffed the soil using its wheels in the area around Cliffhanger, and then observed both the scuffed and undisturbed soil. In addition, Spirit imaged the moons Phobos and Deimos at night. Spirit also acquired part one of a stereo panorama.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 606 (Sept. 16, 2005): Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing and took images overnight of Phobos and Deimos.

Sol 607: Spirit performed remote sensing and used the microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and Moessbauer spectrometer on the scuff feature of Cliffhanger.

Sol 608: Spirit began a long Moessbauer spectrometer campaign on the exterior of Cliffhanger.

Sol 609: Spirit continued the Moessbauer spectrometer campaign.

Sol 610: Spirit once again continued the Moessbauer spectrometer campaign. The rover also proceeded with a panorama of Tennessee Valley.

Sol 611: Spirit used the Moessbauer spectrometer in the interior of Cliffhanger. Spirit then used the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the exterior of Cliffhanger. Spirit also took overnight images of the moons.

Sols 612 and 613: Spirit is on a two-sol plan, consisting of microscopic imager work and a 2.5-hour drive toward "Hillary" to obtain a better look over Tennessee Valley. This new drive position will set up Spirit for the second position to create the stereo panorama. Plans for sol 613 call for Spirit to perform untargeted remote sensing.

As of the end of sol 613, (Sept. 23, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,949 meters (3.08 miles).

Daily Update - 9/22/05
Approaching 'Erebus'
Opportunity Status for sol 586-591

Opportunity is healthy and continuing its drive toward "Erebus Crater." Images taken this week show the interior of the crater. Plans for the next few sols are to get closer to the crater's edge and do extensive imaging. The team is also planning to use the tools on the robotic arm to examine a dark area of outcrop located on the way to the edge of the crater.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 586 (Sept. 16, 2005): Opportunity conducted remote sensing. Sol 587: More remote sensing. Sol 588: Drove about 20 meters (66 feet) at 208 degrees. Sol 589: Drove about 22 meters (72 feet). Sol 590: Drove 35 meters (115 feet). Sol 591 (Sept. 22, 2005): Drove about 17.5 meters (57 feet), turned for weekend work with robotic arm. As of sol 591, Opportunity has traveled 5,933.69 meters (3.69 miles).



Daily Update - 9/19/05
Erebus Bound
Opportunity Status for sol 580-585

Opportunity has resumed normal operations this week. The rover is healthy and making progress towards "Erebus Crater." The rover team has been commanding Opportunity to drive every chance it gets. The last two sols this week have been remote sensing only, due to a lack of critical data.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 580 and 581 (Sept. 10 and 11, 2005): The weekend included a 26.3-meter (86-foot) drive with observations before and after the drive.

Sol 582: A 30-meter (98-foot) drive this sol brought the rover to the "Erebus Highway‚" an outcrop-rich area that extends south toward the crater.

Sol 583: The previous sol's drive appears to have completed successfully, however no data was received due to an issue at the Deep Space Network station where the data is received from space and transmitted to JPL.

Sol 584: Remote sensing was performed, which included as systematic foreground survey using the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The plan included commands for the rover to re-transmit the critical post-drive data to Earth, but these were not received due to a sequencing error.

Sol 585 (Sept. 15, 2005): This sol's plan included commands for remote sensing and for re-transmission of the post-drive imaging.

Total odometry as of sol 584 (Sept. 14, 2005): 5,874.32 meters or 3.65 miles.



Daily Update - 9/18/05
Heading for the Highway
Opportunity Status for sol 574-579

A healthy Opportunity spent the week making progress east towards the "Erebus Highway." Since the sol 563 anomaly, the rover has been performing nominally. The team has now re-certified the use of driving with and without visual odometry. The team is still operating with additional post-anomaly restrictions, including shutting down after the morning uplink window to save the high-gain antenna position, napping before use of the miniature thermal emission, and a "keepout" time after wakeup to allow the flight software to boot without other activities in parallel. The sol 563 anomaly is still under investigation.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 574 and 575 (Sept. 4 and 5, 2005): These were the first two sols of a three-sol plan. The rover performed targeted observations with the panoramic camera and navigation camera.

Sol 576: Opportunity completed the three-sol plan. Since the team is running in restricted mode, this plan did not execute until Tuesday (Sept. 13, 2005). The drive sequence was bundled separately, so if another anomaly were to occur the drive could be pulled from the plan. After a nominal weekend, the drive sequence was uplinked. It resulted in a successful visual odometry drive of about 12 meters (39 feet). This was the first use of visual odometry since the sol 563 anomaly.

Sol 577: Still in restricted mode, the rover performed untargeted remote sensing using the panoramic camera, navigation camera, and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. All sequences executed successfully.

Sols 578 and 579 (Sept. 8 and 9, 2005): This two-sol plan included commands for a visual odometry drive of about 15 meters (49 feet) on sol 578 and untargeted remote sensing on sol 579.

As of sol 577 (Sept. 7, 2005), Opportunity's total odometry was 5,767.11 meters (3.58 miles).



Daily Update - 9/16/05
Testing Command Communications
Spirit Status for sol 599-605

Spirit has continued observations on the top of "Husband Hill," using the microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Moessbauer spectrometer on a target informally called "Irvine." Spirit has also completed three complicated drive sols. It is in position for doing work with the tools on the robotic arm in upcoming sols. During two nights, Spirit observed the moons Phobos and Deimos.

Also this week, Spirit performed two tests to validate the ability to send commands to Spirit via the Mars Odyssey orbiter through the rover's UHF (ultra-high frequency) radio. Downlink through the Odyssey UHF relay has been the principal means for getting data from Spirit. The new tests are for communicating the other direction: sending commands to Spirit via Odyssey UHF relay. The first test was similar to a 1-sol plan; the second contained multiple sequences that simulated a more complicated 3-sol planning day. The team sent old sequences and confirmed that the commands made it onboard the rover, and then the team deleted the files. The first test was successful, and the team is anticipating data to come down from the second test.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 599 (Sept. 9, 2005): Spirit approached the target Irvine on the feature "Putative Dike." The drive was complex because the rover planners needed to make sure Spirit stayed out of the mast occlusion (or stop) zone.

Sol 600: Spirit deployed the robotic arm, took pictures with the microscopic imager, then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on a target. Spirit switched to the Moessbauer spectrometer at 10:30 in the morning, Mars local solar time, for continued observations.

Sol 601: Spirit performed a 24-hour Moessbauer spectrometer integration and made overnight observations of Phobos and Deimos.

Sol 602: Spirit performed another 24-hour Moessbauer spectrometer integration.

Sol 603: Spirit drove 16 meters (53 feet), followed by a 4-meter (13-foot) drive using autonomous navigation. Spirit then performed an Odyssey UHF (ultra-high frequency) relay test. Sol 604: Spirit performed targeted remote sensing operations. Sol 605: Spirit successfully completed a complicated drive, including scuffing and turning. This was followed by another UHF (ultra-high frequency) test, and then overnight miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations. Spirit also entered restricted sols. (Restricted sols occur when the timing of the communications pass from the Odyssey orbiter is too late in the Earth day to gather vital location and health information about the rover after it executed recent commands. The team back on Earth must wait until the next day to find out where and how the rover is.) As of the end of sol 605, (Sept. 15, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,935 meters (3.07 miles).

Daily Update - 9/9/05
Moonstruck
Spirit Status for sol 591-598

Spirit is in good health, power positive, and has no issues. This week the telecom team changed Spirit's uplink rate from 1000 bits per second to 2000 bits per second. In its orbit around the Sun, Mars comes close to Earth for a few months once every two years. Mars is now close enough to Earth that the one-way communication travel time from the spacecraft at Mars to the Deep Space Network antennas on Earth is only about 5 minutes away (at light speed). This shorter communication travel time means that the rover team has plenty of communication-link margin to support the higher uplink rate. The new uplink rate was successful during the sol 598 uplink session.

Between Sept. 2 and Sept. 8, Spirit drove to another imaging location and completed the second stereo imaging campaign. Spirit returned to "Irvine" in order to explore what might be a dike, which is a crack-like cut that often forms when magma from a volcano travels through or over another rock. Spirit also performed more observations of the moons Phobos and Deimos, and completed three days of Moessbauer spectrometer readings on the capture magnets.

Sol-by-sol summaries: Sol 592 (Sept. 2, 2005): Spirit drove to the second hilltop location for stereo imaging.

Sol 593: Spirit performed remote sensing observations.

Sol 594 and 595: On both sols, Spirit performed a Moessbauer spectrometer reading on a capture magnet, observed Phobos and Deimos, and did stereo imaging.

Sol 596: Spirit performed a Moessbauer spectrometer reading on a capture magnet and took images with 13 filters on the panoramic camera.

Sol 597: Spirit finished the panoramic camera imaging. Spirit used the microscopic imager to take pictures of the capture and filter magnets, and used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the capture magnet.

Sol 598: Spirit drove back to Irvine.

As of the end of sol 598, (Sept. 8, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,895 meters (3.04 miles).



Daily Update - 9/2/05
Cautious Recovery
Opportunity Status for sol 566-573

Recovery from the sol 563 power-off event is well underway. Each sol, the team has planned one new activity. By sol 570 (Aug. 31, 2005), the rover had successfully performed observations with the panoramic camera, navigation camera, and miniature thermal emission spectrometer and had completed a short alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration (with the robotic arm stowed) and a 6.5-meter (21-foot) blind drive.

Additional precautions are being taken with each sol’s plan, including shutting down after the morning uplink (to save the high-gain antenna position, thus preventing an X-band fault in case of another anomaly) and waiting 15 minutes after wakeup to start any science activities.

Sol-by sol summaries:

Sols 566 through 568 (Aug. 27 through Aug. 29, 2005) were devoted to engineering activities. Science activities were put on hold over the weekend while engineers investigated the sol 563 reset.

Sol 569: Spirit completed step two in the post-anomaly recovery plan: a short blind drive. (Step one, remote sensing with the panoramic camera and navigation camera, was performed on sol 565). The 6.5-meter (21-foot) drive executed perfectly, and all motor currents were nominal.

Sol 570: This sol marked the first use of the miniature thermal emission spectrometer since the sol 563 reset, which was step three in recovery from the anomaly. After waking from a nap and waiting 15 minutes, the rover performed a short alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration with the robotic arm stowed. This was simply to test the payload service board, which controls the spectrometers. Five minutes after the end of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer test, a low-elevation raster was taken successfully with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The resulting data product has been received on Earth.

Sol 571: Spirit completed a blind drive of 11.8 meters (38.7 feet) designed to take it across some outcrop then over a small ripple.

Sols 572 and 573 (Sept. 2 and Sept. 3, 2005): Commands sent for these sols are for observations with the panoramic camera and navigation camera.

Opportunity's total distance driven on Mars, as of Sept. 2, 2005, is 5,755 meters (3.58 miles).



Daily Update - 9/2/05
Studying the Summit
Spirit Status for sol 584-591

Perched on the crest "Husband Hill," Spirit took images for a summit panorama and used instruments on the robotic arm to investigate soil targets.

Science team has compiled a list of experiments they would like Spirit to execute while the rover is on the summit. This list includes:

  • Assess the inner basin and image potential drive paths
  • Assess the surrounding terrain and image "Cumberland Ridge"
  • Routinely observe the atmosphere during the day and the moons at night
  • Study undisturbed soils, scuffed soils, and drift deposits
  • Study the structural geology of Husband Hill, including dips
  • Observe outcrops and rocks
  • Take images for a rover self-portrait
  • Complete a panorama on top of the "Columbia Hills"
  • Finalize exit strategy

Spirit has already completed some of the above observations. It has taken frames for the self-portrait, looked at soil targets, and imaged the two moons of Mars -- Phobos and Deimos -- twice. After completing the initial summit imaging, Spirit drove southeast to another point in the crest area to assess more of the Cumberland Ridge and surrounding terrain. 

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 585 (Aug. 25, 2005): Spirit performed remote sensing operations, did a Moessbauer spectrometer integration, and imaged Phobos and Deimos.

Sol 586: Spirit performed remote sensing operations, did a Moessbauer spectrometer integration, and imaged the rover deck.

Sol 587: Spirit changed tools from the Moessbauer spectrometer to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 588: Spirit continued with robotic arm operations using the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 589: Spirit retracted the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and stowed the robotic arm. The rover backed away to image the area where the robotic arm had been working, then drove to the southeast. Drive distance for the sol was 21 meters (69 feet).

Sol 590: Spirit continued the drive in the east-southeast direction for another 14.2 meters (47 feet).

Sol 591: Spirit turned to point the UHF antenna for better communications with the Odyssey orbiter. Spirit performed remote sensing at “South Point 1.”

As of the end of sol 591, (Sept. 1, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,862 meters (3.02 miles).



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