Spirit surveyed Columbia Hills with panoramic camera

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Surpasses 3 Kilometer Mark! – sol 148-151, June 09, 2004

During sols 148 through 151, Spirit advanced significantly closer to the “Columbia Hills” and now sits only 220 meters (722 feet) from its first target at the base, a location informally named “Spur B.”

Sol 148 was a driving sol, with Spirit completing a 64.7-meter (212.3 feet) engineer-directed drive. This put the rover in position for some sol 149 work with the robotic arm, and provided a great view of the Columbia Hills.

On Sol 149, Spirit took a break from driving and surveyed the Columbia Hills with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emissions spectrometer. After that, the rover attained an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer observation of the filter magnet and capture magnet. Spirit takes a look at its magnets every now and then to assess what magnetically susceptible materials have accumulated. The last magnet check was on sol 92.

Spirit used its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mössbauer spectrometer to observe a rock called “Joshua” on sol 150. Unfortunately, the rest of the sol’s planned work with the instrument deployment device did not take place because of a command anomaly, which made Spirit think that a collision between the rock abrasion tool and the forearm might occur. Therefore, the tool change and all subsequent arm motions were prevented for the rest of the sol.

Spirit was back to business on sol 151, and finished observing Joshua and the science magnets with the tools on the instrument deployment device. After that, the rover was off, and successfully completed a 73-meter (240 feet) drive toward the Columbia Hills.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity on the Edge – sol 130-133, June 10, 2004

On sol 130 Opportunity traversed a total of about 45 meters (about 147.6 feet). About 39 meters (about 127.9 feet) of that was counter-clockwise along the edge of “Endurance Crater,” and 6 meters (about 19.7 feet) toward the crater rim. The sol ended with the rover about 10 meters (32.8 feet) from the crater rim. The traverse ended up about 1 meter (about 3.3 feet) short of what was commanded due to a slightly uneven patch of ground that the rover seemed to run across near the end of the drive. Driving over this tripped a suspension limit that rover planners had set to help prevent inadvertently driving into difficult terrain. Deep sleep was again invoked for the night of sol 130 to 131.

On sol 131 the rover successfully traversed up the slope to the crater edge, took a detailed set of images and then backed off a little to optimize its orientation for the rover’s communications passes. These images will aid in the project’s assessment of traversing on the interior slopes of Endurance Crater in this vicinity. Deep sleep was not invoked on this night, in favor of relaying data to Mars Odyssey in the early morning on sol 132.

On sol 132 the rover re-approached the crater rim at the location and orientation most advantageous for the “pre-dip” into the crater. This approach was designed to just crest the edge of the crater and leave the rover roughly level (with the front two wheels in the crater). The drive executed beautifully.

On sol 133 the rover executed the first real “dip” into Endurance Crater. The intent was to go far enough in that all wheels would be on the slope of the crater, and then come all the way back out, proving that the rover was capable of getting back out before going very deep. The other main objective was to gather information on the degree and nature of any slip that would be experienced while traversing the crater wall. The execution went extremely well, with slips and disturbance of the terrain well below acceptable levels, giving the team confidence that the rover is capable of going deeper. The engineering team will continue to characterize the variety of slopes and materials that Opportunity will encounter deeper in the crater.