Spirit and Opportunity have had problems with cosmic radiation, memory and even a stubbed toe, but they're still rolling along on Mars.


A Mars Exploration Rover Update

Hi! I'm Matt Heverly for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- rover driver for the Opportunity rover.

Recently Spirit and Opportunity just celebrated their 5th Anniversary; A big milestone for both rovers.

We had some trouble recently, with both of the rovers, but fortunately they're both back on the road and driving again.

In late January, on sol 1800, Spirit celebrated a significant milestone by operating 20 times longer than it's original mission warranty, which was just 90 days.

Sol 1800 also had some troubles for the rover in the way that the data is written to its memory and transmitted to Earth.

We think that this is the result of cosmic radiation corrupting its flash memory on board.

On 1806 however, we were able to return to driving and the rover seems to be behaving fine.

We only made it 30 cm before we encountered a partially buried rock.

It hit the right front wheel. If you remember, the right front wheel on Spirit no longer turns, so it makes it a little difficult to make it over obstacles.

Sol 1809 however, the rover drivers were able to successfully negotiate around this rock and are now continuing their trek to get to Home Plate.

Spirit has also had a little good luck. On sol 1812, a wind gust must have gone through and blown a little dust off the rover's solar panels gave the rover a modest boost to its energy level.

On the other side of the planet, with Opportunity, we're still on our long trek to Endeavour crater.

Last week Opportunity also experienced some trouble when the drive was terminated due to an error on the pan cam mast pointing assembly, which is how we point our cameras as we drive.

This also looks to be cosmic radiation in the form of what we call a single event upset on the motor controller electronics.

Everything seems to be performing well now though and we're able to continue driving again.

Coming up, we're going to be trying out some new capabilities where we'll be able to do multi-sol driving.

This basically means that the rover can drive one day and then wake up on the next day, continue driving autonomously, without any human interaction.

This is going to greatly increase our ability to make long distances for a given planning cycle as we continue this long, long trek to Endeavour crater.

Thanks again for tuning in and I'm Matt Heverly for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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