Two Wounded Rovers On Mars Recovering and pushing onward

Last Updated on June 2, 2020 by

SPIRIT UPDATE: Looking Inside Mazatzal – sol 85, Mar 30, 2004

Since the rock abrasion tool completed a full-circle grind into the “New York” and “Brooklyn” targets on the rock “Mazatzal,” it was time for Spirit to do some analysis. Spirit spent much of Sol 85, which ended at 1:41 p.m. PST on March 30, successfully operating the instruments on its robotic arm to take a more detailed look inside Mazatzal.

Although all the operations were completed successfully on Mars, the rover team spent most of the morning and afternoon on Earth worrying. After the team sent the uplink to Spirit, they waited for the standard “beep” that confirms the sequence reached Spirit and was activated. This beep, and an expected one 10 minutes later were not acquired, and engineers proceeded to trouble-shoot what might have gone wrong. No errors could be found, and finally a successful afternoon Odyssey communications pass provided 75 megabits of data, indicating that all the sequences were in fact onboard the rover and that all the planned sol activities had completed successfully. Like worried parents, the rover team members breathed a collective sigh of relief, and are now looking into possible causes of the failure to detect the beep.

As planned, Spirit began sol 85 by receiving the uplink and then taking a one-hour nap. After waking, the rover took panoramic camera images of the rock abrasion tool and of the ratted hole in Mazatzal. Before the panoramic camera work was done, Spirit took some final shots of “Bonneville” crater. Some of those images might contribute to a super-resolution image of the heatshield remnants on the far wall. Spirit also took some images to try to catch a dust devil in action.

After the panoramic camera activity, Spirit used the microscopic imager to take a 5-position pseudo-color mosaic of the Mazatzal rock abrasion tool hole. Then the Mössbauer spectrometer was placed in the hole and began an overnight integration.

A little after 2 p.m. Mars Local Solar Time, the last miniature thermal emission spectrometer sections of Bonneville crater were acquired, followed by a set of panoramic camera images of the drive direction. In the late afternoon, Spirit used the mini thermal emission spectrometer to acquire ground and sky stares, which will be complemented by another set early tomorrow morning. Shortly after the 2 a.m. Mars Global Surveyor pass, the arm will change tools from the Mössbauer spectrometer to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for an integration in the rock abrasion tool hole through 9:20 a.m Mars Local Solar Time on Sol 86.

The rock abrasion tool will be back to work on sol 86, which will end at 2:20 p.m. PST on March 31, 2004, brushing a 6-spot mosaic on another portion of the rock Mazatzal called “Missouri.” The mini thermal emission spectrometer will analyze the brushed area and then Spirit will begin a 5-sol drive toward the Columbia Hills.

Spirit Update Archive

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Takes a Breather – sol 64, Mar 30, 2004

On Opportunity’s 64th sol, which ended at 1:22 a.m. PST on March 30, the rover team analyzed the results of engineering activities run to investigate an error message they received from the rover on sol 63.

A problem with a secondary memory file was isolated and resolved. Just as an ordinary computer disk can have corrupted sections, a corrupted file in an area where rover commands are addressed and stored has been identified. Engineers have identified the location of the problem within the memory and figuratively fenced it off, containing it and preventing it from harming any future command sequences. This minor issue has not impeded the rover from resuming normal science operations on the next sol.

The wake-up song chosen for Opportunity on this quiet sol was “Stand” by REM.

The rover is currently at the rock dubbed “Bounce.” Opportunity met this rock once before; while still cloaked in its protective lander and airbags, the rover bounced on the rock while on its way to a safe landing in “Eagle Crater.” Miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations have shown Bounce is rich in hematite. In the coming sols, the rover’s other spectrometers will examine the rock before the rock abrasion tool grinds into a designated target.

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