OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Examining a Little Crater Before Moving on Toward 'Vostok' - sol 389-395, March 15, 2005
The rover took some time away from driving and explored a little crater it approached last week. Once Opportunity is done with the crater, plans call for continuing toward a larger crater, "Vostok." With its front legs just on the lip of the small crater, Opportunity was able to extend its robotic arm to characterize some of the mineralogy found here.
The last previous drive left Opportunity in a position where it could make its final approach to the lip of one of the craters in a cluster of three small craters. On sol 389 (Feb. 26, 2005) the rover took images of the site with its panoramic camera and its miniature thermal emission spectrometer. On sol 390, Opportunity took a panoramic camera mosaic of the crater, then bumped forward to the edge of the crater. Sol 391 was another day of remote-sensing science and rest.
For sol 392, the team decided to take an in situ look at a rock target called "Normandy." The MÃ¶ssbauer spectrometer was placed on the rock and it conducted a three-hour long integration. Then the rover switched to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and performed a very short (10-minute) measurement. The science team needed a sample reading, and by using this technique, the engineering team was able to give the scientists some idea of what they had in time for a communication window with Mars Odyssey. The science team used this data to determine if sol 393 would be a grinding day (with the rock abrasion tool). After getting the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading, the rover went to sleep, woke up at about 4:00 a.m. local solar time and started collecting data again with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. The instrument ran for about 6 hours.
On sol 393, the rover switched back to the MÃ¶ssbauer spectrometer and started a very long (about 12-hour) integration. The rover was able to use the mini-deep-sleep mode after the integration.
Plans for sols 394 and 395, uplinked on March 3, call for the rover to stow its robotic arm and back away from the crater on sol 394. At this point the rover will take some remote-sensing images. After confirmation that these important images have been acquired, Opportunity will turn and drive toward Vostok.