Opportunity Continues South with New Mobility Software

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Continues South with New Mobility Software – sol 380-388, March 07, 2005

After a busy week of driving with new mobility software, Opportunity continues to be in excellent health. The rover has traveled 450 meters (just over a quarter of a mile) in 6 sols. Opportunity took a couple of breaks from the trek south to use the tools on its robotic arm for investigating of a rock called “Russet” and to image a crater triplet. Atmospheric opacity has been stable, with tau hovering between 0.85 and 0.90.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

On sol 380, Opportunity placed its Mössbauer spectrometer on Russet for a five-hour integration, with remote sensing in parallel. The rover then switched to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for an eight-hour overnight integration.

On sol 381 Opportunity took one microscopic image of Russet, stowed the arm and bumped back for some remote sensing of the same target, then went for an approximately 60-meter (197-foot) drive to the crater “Jason.”

Sol 382 was the second sol of a two-sol plan. Opportunity performed two hours of remote sensing.

The plan for sols 383 through 385 contained a first-time activity: to drive on all three sols over the weekend. On sol 383 there was a record-breaking 105-meter (344-foot) blind drive, in which the rover follows a route determined in advance by rover planners, followed by 72 meters (236 feet) of autonomous navigation, in which the rover chooses its own route around any obstacles it recognizes in images taken along the way. Sol 384 continued with 104 meters (341 feet) of autonomous navigation. Finally, Sol 385 completed the plan with an additional 109 meters (358 feet) of autonomously.

Autonomous navigation collects 15 megabytes to 25 megabytes of data per hour by imaging the passing terrain. (This would allow mobility engineers to reconstruct what happened if the drive faulted out.) As a result, flash memory was filled almost to the brim on sol 385, and sol 386 added only 6 megabytes of science data (all atmospheric science).

On sol 387, with a bit more free data volume to work with, and the team planned an approximately 80-meter (262-foot) drive to end up at a group of three small craters. The team also told Opportunity to use its navigation camera after the drive to take images for providing a 360-degree panorama of the craters.

The plan for sol 388, ending on Feb. 25, is to repeat the 6-megabyte atmospheric-science observations.

Current odometry total: 3014.77 meters (1.87 miles)