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Spitzer's Spin on Stars

Good afternoon my name is Joel Signorelli and this is the flight director's report for the 11th of August. The past week was winter solstice on Mars, which means it was the shortest day of the Martian year. It also corresponds with the middle of the Martian winter. Now, we've had a couple pretty big milestones over the last few weeks on both vehicles, where both vehicles have survived on the Martian surface for 900 sols. A sol is a Martian day and it's about 24 hours and 40 minutes on Earth. So, the original requirement was for the vehicles to last around 90 sols on the surface and here we are at 900, its bests its lifetime requirement over ten times.

For Opportunity, it's sol 906. Opportunity has been perched on the rim of "Beagle Crater" for the last eight sols. Now Beagle Crater is a fairly small crater, about 35 meters in diameter. Opportunity was using its pan cam and mini-TES to take images of the crater itself and the surrounding area. Opportunity also used its Rock Abrasion Tool or Rat for the first time in 200 sols. The purpose of the Rat is to grind into a rock to expose the interior of the rock so that the IDD, or robot arm, can come down, place instruments on that surface and help scientist determine the composition of the rock.

On Spirit, it's sol 926. Spirit is still slugging away on its winter science campaign and it's finished almost all of its "McMurdo" pan of the surrounding area. It's now doing touch up images of small areas and imaging the rover deck so we can get a complete image of the whole area. Then everyday it's also doing mini-TES imaging of the atmosphere. A couple sols ago it did a sunset observations to help determine the amount of dust in the Martian atmosphere at winter solstice. That's it for today. My name is Joel Signorelli and that's what's been happening on Mars.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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