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SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Braving the Dust on Mars
Posted In: Mars Coverage  2/17/05

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Braving the Dust on Mars - sol 388 - 393, February 15, 2005

Spirit's solar panels are collecting a fine layer of dust, which has reduced energy levels, but Spirit keeps on keeping on.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Spirit completed an approximately 13-meter (43-foot) drive toward the "Cumberland Ridge" on sol 388. Spirit spent sol 389 performing the usual set of remote-sensing observations.

On sol 390, Spirit drove closer to "Larry's Lookout," about 13 meters (43 feet) backwards uphill. Spirit stopped when the rover reached the mobility time-of-day limit, which is a time of day that engineers program into the software to ensure the rover won't deplete all of its power at the end of a day's drive. Then, Spirit performed a set of remote sensing observations on sol 391.

Sol 392 was planned as a 23-meter (75-foot) drive toward Larry's Lookout, plus some post-drive imaging in the drive direction with the navigation camera and panoramic camera. The usual remote-sensing science was planned for various times throughout the sol. However, Spirit halted after completing the first segment of the drive, a distance of only about 12 meters (39 feet). The halt may have been due to rocks nearby considered too dangerous by the rover's autonomous navigation system. This left Spirit with more driving to do on the next drive opportunity. Spirit also has been taking energy from the batteries recently (due to increased dust in the atmosphere, which has covered the solar panels with a thin layer of dust, blocking some of the light that provides energy via the solar panels).

On sol 393, the rover team planned an easy remote-sensing day in order to try to put back some energy into the batteries.

The plan for sol 394 was to perform a careful drive of about 6.4 meters (21 feet) to park in a spot where the rover team can carry out an upload of new flight software. The spot was chosen for an orientation facilitating the high gain antenna to point to Earth for good communication during upload of the flight software. Sol 394 ended on Feb. 11.

As of sol 393, Spirit's total odometry is 4,108 meters (2.55 miles).


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