No Proof Of Martians Yet. MarsRover Update

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Spirit Roving Right Along. – sol 127-130, May 17, 2004

Spirit spent most of sol 127 continuing its drive toward the “Columbia Hills.” The rover put approximately 70 more meters (229.7 feet) on its odometer and then took an hour-and-20-minute siesta. After the drive, Spirit took observations with the panoramic camera, navigation camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer.

Spirit began sol 128 by completing a panoramic camera observation of a rock target called “Flat Head.” The rover then rested up for a couple of hours before embarking on a 90-meter (295 feet) drive toward the hills. Once the drive was complete, Spirit completed its standard post-drive observations.

Sol 129 began successfully, but Spirit encountered a couple of difficulties before the martian day was over. After waking, Spirit performed 45 minutes of science observations and then settled down for a morning nap. With plenty of energy stored, it was time to drive. Spirit roved 31 meters (102 feet) across the surface in an engineer-directed drive and then spent 45 minutes using its autonomous navigation system to try to drive down the side of a small ridge. The backside slope of the ridge was too steep, and the autonomous navigation system had Spirit turn in an attempt to find another way down. Unfortunately, a couple of large rocks close to the ridge prevented Spirit from finding a safe path down. At the end of the drive sequence, Spirit was supposed to complete a “stutter step” to get in proper position to do work with the instrument deployment device on sol 130. Unfortunately, the rover was unable to complete this final positioning or the ultimate post-drive imaging, so sol 130 was mostly a drive sol.

Spirit has 2,291.92 meters (1.4 miles) on its odometer and is approximately 936 meters (.6 miles) from Columbia Hills. The rover is on track to reach the Columbia Hills by sol 160.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: A Sol for Rest and Recharging. – sol 112, May 18, 2004

Opportunity is healthy, but feeling a bit sluggish today. The rover’s 40-meter (131 feet) traverse along the southern edge of “Endurance Crater” on sol 111, and a sol 112 error with a Deep Space Network command transmission have resulted in a low battery state of charge.

The sol 111 drive put Opportunity on an 8-degree slope that tilted the rover away from the Sun and limited the amount of direct sunlight that could reach the solar panels.

To help the battery recover to its normal state of charge, rover planners had built a sol 112 plan that deleted two of the three UHF windows. Unfortunately, a Deep Space Network configuration error prevented the command load from reaching Opportunity on sol 112 and, as expected in such cases, the rover executed the onboard run-out sequence, which included an hour of remote sensing and the three on-board UHF communication windows.

Sol 113 will be a sol for sleep and recharging for Opportunity. On sol 114, the rover will do some limited remote sensing in the morning, but will generally take it easy over the next few sols in order to fully charge the batteries. The limited activity over the next few sols will focus on moving towards the Endurance Crater rim and a new position for panoramic camera imaging.

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