OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Soil Survey – sol 415-420, March 31, 2005

Sometimes Opportunity needs to stop and smell the roses ”¦ uh, or the soil as the case may be. This week, the science team chose to examine the mineral content of the rippled ground before continuing the southward trek. The team is interested in comparing the chemical makeup of the ripples’ troughs to that of the ripples’ crests. Opportunity stopped at a nice trough, extended its robotic arm and investigated the soil. It then drove up onto one of the ripples to examine the crest.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 415 to 417 (March 25-27, 2005):
Zeroing in on a soil target called “Mobarak” in honor of Persian New Year, Opportunity has had its head down in a trough for three sols trying to figure out what the trough soil is made of. During an observation like this, it uses all of its in-situ instruments taking microscopic images, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer readings and Mössbauer spectrometer readings.

Sol 418:
After Opportunity had looked at the soil in the trough, it was time to examine the soil at the top of the ripple. The rover planners perfectly executed a 7-meter (23-foot) drive that placed the rover right at the top of the ripple. Opportunity deployed its arm once again and inspected the soil.

Sols 419 and 420:
Here, Opportunity has the chance to look at two targets, “Norooz” and “Mayberooz,” again studying the soil properties.

Sols 421 and 422 (March 31 and April 1, 2005):
Actually, this is kind of neat. As this report is being written, Opportunity is on Mars driving away from this soil survey spot and heading toward the “Viking” crater. When it gets there, it will stop and image the crater for two days.