Author Topic: Mars Exploration Rovers Update  (Read 200269 times)

Offline jacqmans

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« on: 08/29/2006 09:15 PM »
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Continues Mid-Winter Studies of Martian Rocks and
Soil - sol 933-942, August 25, 2006:

Spirit continued to make progress on the rover's winter campaign of
science observations, acquiring microscopic images and data about rock
composition with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the
miniature
thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit took images of the spacecraft
deck
for incorporation into the "McMurdo panorama."

Spirit remains healthy. Electrical power from the rover's solar array
has been holding steady at about 280 watt-hours per sol (a hundred
watt-hours is the amount of electricity needed to light one 100-watt
bulb for one hour).

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 933 (Aug. 18, 2006): Spirit acquired super-resolution images of a
basalt hill nicknamed "Dome Fuji" with the panoramic camera and
monitored dust on the pancam mast assembly. Spirit scanned the
atmosphere for opacity caused by dust and scanned the sky and ground
with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 934: Spirit acquired touch-up images for the McMurdo panorama with
the panoramic camera. Spirit scanned the atmosphere for opacity caused
by dust and scanned the sky and ground with the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer.

Sol 935: Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of a rock target
called
"Prat" and measured the magnitude of sunlight in addition to scanning
the horizon and sky with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal
emission spectrometer.

Sol 936: Spirit acquired data from a rock target called "Wasa" with the
miniature thermal spectrometer. The rover continued to make daily
observations of the sky and ground with the panoramic camera and
miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 937: Spirit acquired microscopic images of a ripple called "Palmer"
and scanned for wind-related changes in a sand target known as
"Rothera." Spirit continued to make daily observations of the sky and
ground with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission
spectrometer.

Sol 938: Spirit acquired super-resolution, panoramic camera images of a
possible meteorite candidate known as "Vernadsky." The rover continued
to make daily observations of the sky and ground with the panoramic
camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 939: Spirit acquired super-resolution, panoramic camera images of a
target known as "Scott Base." Spirit continued to make daily
observations of the sky and ground with the panoramic camera and
miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 940: Plans called for Spirit to acquire images of the rover deck
with the panoramic camera and acquire miniature thermal emission
spectrometer data on a rock target known as "Law-Racovita." Plans
called
for continued daily observations of the sky and ground with the
panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 941: Plans called for Spirit to acquire panoramic camera images of
the rover deck as well as continue to make daily observations of the
sky
and ground with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission
spectrometer.

Sol 942 (Aug. 27, 2006): Plans called for Spirit to continue acquiring
panoramic camera images of the rover deck, collect data about elemental
composition of the rock target called "Halley Brunt," and make daily
observations of the sky and ground with the panoramic camera and
miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Odometry:

As of sol 938 (Aug. 23, 2006), Spirit's total odometry remained at
6,876.18 meters (4.27 miles).

------------------------------------------------------------------------

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Closer and Closer to 'Victoria' - sol 913-919,
August 25, 2006:

Opportunity is healthy and located only 218 meters (715 feet) from the
rim of "Victoria Crater." Opportunity's odometer clicked past the
9-kilometer (5.5-mile) mark as it drove 237.81 meters (780 feet) during
the week. The terrain within the annulus, or ring, of material
surrounding Victoria is homogeneous and flat, which is favorable for
long drives. The team planned a trenching activity for sol 919 (Aug.
25,
2006) to prepare for a robotic arm campaign during the weekend.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 913 (Aug. 18, 2006): Opportunity used its panoramic camera to
conduct a 13-filter systematic foreground observation, gathered a
systematic foreground raster with the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer and used the navigation camera in support of that
spectrometer. The rover measured the atmosphere's clarity (a
measurement
called "tau") with the panoramic camera and used the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer for observations of targets "Tenerife" (a
boulder)
and "Tenerife BG" (soil near the boulder).

Sol 914: Opportunity drove 71.72 meters (235 feet) then took images
from
its new position with the navigation camera and the panoramic camera.
The rover also conducted a test to aid the design effort for NASA's
2009
Mars Science Laboratory. Opportunity's navigation camera took an image
of the sunset. The image was designed to help in development of an
algorithm for determining the rover's position using the sun and the
time of day. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer observed sky
and ground during the afternoon communication-relay pass of NASA's Mars
Odyssey orbiter.

Sol 915: The rover conducted monitoring of dust on the panoramic mast
assembly (the rover's "neck" and "head"), used the panoramic camera to
survey clasts (rock fragments) and used the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer to observe sky and ground.

Sol 916: The rover drove backwards for 88.82 meters (291 feet).

Sol 917: Opportunity drove backwards 77.27 meters (254 feet) and took
mosaics of images with the navigation camera. Before the Mars Odyssey
pass, the rover took a panoramic camera tau measurement. During the
orbiter's pass, the miniature thermal emission spectrometer conducted a
foreground stare. The rover also took a panoramic camera 13-filter
foreground image.

Sol 918: Opportunity did untargeted remote sensing, including: a
panoramic camera albedo measurement, a navigation camera rear-looking
mosaic, a front hazard avoidance camera image for potential robotic-arm
work, and a miniature thermal emission spectrometer seven-point sky and
ground observation. The rover also took a panoramic camera tau
measurement before the first of two Odyssey passes and a miniature
thermal emission spectrometer sky and ground observation during the
first Odyssey pass.

Sol 919: Plans call for Opportunity to take a panoramic camera image of
the location selected for trenching, then to advance 2.3 meters (7.5
feet) and use a wheel to dig the trench, pausing to take images. Next
in
the plan are navigation camera mosaics in the forward and rear
directions, then observations of sky and ground with the miniature
thermal emission spectrometer during the Odyssey pass.

As of sol 918 (August 24, 2006), Opportunity's total odometry was
9,015.19 meters (5.60 miles).

Online Stardust9906

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #1 on: 08/30/2006 11:34 AM »
Thanks for posting the update.  The MER Rovers have been one of NASA’s biggest exploration successes in recent years, the folks that built them and the operations team deserve great credit.  I can't wait to see Victoria Crater.

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #2 on: 09/06/2006 08:32 AM »
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Inching Closer to 'Victoria' - sol 920-927,
September 1, 2006:

Opportunity is healthy and still 218 meters (715 feet) from "Victoria
Crater." Over the weekend, the rover's shoulder azimuth joint stalled
as
Opportunity was trying to start measurements on a trench it dug on Sol
919 (Aug. 25, 2006). Consequently, all weekend arm activities were
aborted, but remote science activities were executed as planned.

Beginning on Sol 923, rover arm diagnostic measurements were taken as
well as some remote sensing science. Results from the diagnostics
revealed neither cause nor any damage to the stalled joint. On Sol 924,
the arm performed flawlessly as Opportunity successfully completed the
activities originally planned for Sol 920. On Sols 925, 926 and 927
Opportunity collected more arm diagnostics (to ensure the stow before
drive would go smoothly) as well as completing all arm activities
originally planned over the weekend.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 920 (Aug. 26, 2006): Opportunity did a miniature thermal emission
spectrometer observation and other activities were aborted due to the
arm stall.

Sol 921: The rover took a panoramic camera image.

Sol 922: Opportunity used its panoramic camera and miniature thermal
emission spectrometer.

Sol 923: The rover conducted arm diagnostics and took panoramic camera
and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations.

Sol 924: Completing the activities originally planned for sol 920,
Opportunity took a microscopic image and did an alpha particle X-ray
spectrometer observation.

Sol 925: The rover continued to do arm diagnostics and completed a
Moessbauer spectrometer observation - a completion of sol 921's
originally planned activities.

Sol 926: Opportunity continued to do arm diagnostics and completed
activities originally planned for sol 922 by taking microscopic images
and using the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 927: On this sol, the rover used its Moessbauer spectrometer.

As of sol 925 (August 31, 2006), Opportunity's total odometry was
9,023.70 meters (5.61 miles).

--------------------

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Recovers from Software Reset, Makes Finishing
Touches to Winter Panorama - sol 943-949, September 05, 2006:

Spirit experienced a software reset during the evening overpass of the
Odyssey orbiter on sol 944 (Aug. 29, 2006). The rover was in the
process
of receiving command sequences for the following two Martian days, sols
945 and 946 (Aug. 30-31, 2006). As a result of the reset, the rover
went
into automode, meaning the rover did not attempt to execute a master
sequence of activities for the day. The apparent cause was that the
rover's central processing unit was overworked as several tasks were
running in parallel at the time. Engineers transmitted a new,
abbreviated plan of activities on sol 946 along with the plan of
activities for sol 947 (Sept. 1, 2006).

Spirit is healthy and continues to make progress on the rover's winter
science campaign. The rover spent part of the week filling in sections
of the rover deck for the "McMurdo panorama." Electrical power from the
rover's solar array has been holding steady at about 280 watt-hours per
sol (a hundred watt-hours is the amount of electricity needed to light
one 100-watt bulb for one hour).

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 943 (Aug. 28, 2006): Spirit acquired sky images with the navigation
camera. The rover scanned the atmosphere for opacity caused by dust and
scanned the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer.

Sol 944: Spirit acquired microscopic images of the soil target known as
"Halley Brunt." Spirit scanned the atmosphere for opacity caused by
dust
and scanned the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer.

Sol 945: Spirit experienced a software reset and went into automode,
meaning the rover did not attempt to execute a master sequence of
activities for the day. The apparent cause was that the rover's central
processing unit was overworked.

Sol 946: Spirit remained in automode. Engineers transmitted an
abbreviated plan of activities for the sol along with the plan of
activities for sol 947.

Sol 947: Plans called for Spirit to acquire fill-in images for the
McMurdo panorama and to continue to make daily observations of the sky
and ground with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer.

Sol 948: Plans called for Spirit to acquire Moessbauer data on the soil
target called "Halley Brunt" and to continue to make daily observations
of the sky and ground with the panoramic camera and the miniature
thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 949 (Sept. 3, 2006): Plans called for the rover to acquire fill-in
frames for the McMurdo panorama and to continue to make daily
observations of the sky and ground with the panoramic camera and the
miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Odometry:

As of sol 945 (Aug. 30, 2006), Spirit's total odometry remained at
6,876.18 meters (4.27 miles).

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #3 on: 09/12/2006 07:08 PM »
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Finishing Up Scuff Work and Heading for 'Emma Dean'
- sol 928-935, September 12, 2006:

Opportunity is healthy and just over 100 meters (328 feet) from
"Victoria Crater." The rover completed robotic arm work on a scuff mark
it made on sol 919. On sol 929 (Sept. 4, 2006), Opportunity almost got
a
hole-in-one by driving 100.31 meters (329 feet) to the small crater
"Emma Dean." The rover arrived just 5 meters (16 feet) short of Emma
Dean. On sol 931 the rover photographed the bit of the rock abrasion
tool (RAT) to help engineers estimate how many more grinds might be
possible with the tool. The hazard avoidance camera took several
high-resolution images at different angles. The RAT engineers are
examining them to see how much "bite" is left in the RAT. Also on sol
931, a short bump to an ejecta rock was attempted in the hopes of
grinding it. Another bump (tentatively scheduled for sol 937) will have
to be attempted before the rover can actually grind it. The remainder
of
the week had Opportunity acquiring remote-sensing science at Emma Dean.

Following the robotic arm campaign at Emma Dean, Opportunity will
continue its drive to Victoria Crater.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 928 (Sept. 3, 2006): Opportunity used the microscopic imager on the
robotic arm to look at scuff-mark targets "Powell" and "Powell's
Brother." The rover also used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on
Powell's Brother. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer was also
used on this sol.

Sol 929: The rover bumped back this sol and used its panoramic camera.
It also drove forward toward the small crater referred to as Emma Dean.
The rover also took some post-drive images.

Sol 930: This sol consisted of untargeted remote sensing.

Sol 931: Opportunity bumped to a rover arm target at Emma Dean and
conducted untargeted remote sensing.

Sol 932: The rover conducted untargeted remote sensing.

Sol 933: Opportunity conducted targeted remote sensing.

Sol 934: Opportunity conducted targeted remote sensing.

Sol 935 (Sept. 10, 2006): Opportunity conducted targeted remote
sensing.

As of sol 931 (Sept. 6, 2006), Opportunity's total odometry was
9,128.84
meters (5.67 miles).

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #4 on: 09/15/2006 05:38 PM »
SPIRIT UPDATE: The Martian Sun Also Rises as Winter Retreats -
sol 957-963, September 14, 2006:

Spirit is beginning to see an upward trend in electrical power as
winter
slowly recedes and the sun ascends higher in the sky each day.
Electrical power from the rover's solar array rose to 287 watt-hours on
the rover's 958th Martian day, or sol (Sept. 12, 2006) of exploration,
compared with 277 watt-hours on sol 944 (Aug. 29, 2006). One hundred
watt-hours is the amount of electricity needed to light one 100-watt
bulb for one hour.

During the past week, Spirit conducted 10 hours of analysis of the
elemental composition of dust on the rover's magnets using the alpha
particle X-ray spectrometer. Spirit also finished taking images of the
spacecraft deck.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 957 (Sept. 11, 2006): Spirit continues to complete the same set of
observations each sol in parallel with engineering activities such as
data management. The engineering block of activities includes
monitoring
atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, and surveying the sky and
ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. On this
particular sol, Spirit demonstrated additional multi-tasking abilities
by acquiring data on a rock target known as "Vostok" using the
miniature
thermal emission spectrometer while transmitting data to the Odyssey
spacecraft as it passed overhead.

Sol 958: Spirit acquired part 13 of the 15-part image mosaic of the
spacecraft deck with the panoramic camera. Spirit spent about five
hours
acquiring data on the elemental composition of dust on the rover's
filter magnets using the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 959: Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of a soil target
consisting of bright material in the rover's tracks known as "Tyrone."

Sol 960: Plans called for Spirit to continue to acquire panoramic
images
of the rover deck, restart the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer
following the overhead pass of the Odyssey spacecraft, and spend 4
hours
and 50 minutes collecting elemental data of dust on the filter magnets.
Plans also called for a morning measurement of sky brightness in the
west with the panoramic camera (known as a pancam skyspot), a search
for
clouds using the navigation camera, a horizon survey with the panoramic
camera, imaging of the "El Dorado" dune field with the panoramic
camera,
and imaging of ripples with the rear hazard avoidance camera.

Sol 961: Plans called for Spirit to acquire data from a target known as
"Macquarie" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, acquire
data from the calibration target with the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer, and search for clouds with the navigation camera.

Sol 962: Plans called for Spirit to acquire the last segment of the
15-part panoramic mosaic of the spacecraft deck and conduct a 4-hour
and
35-minute alpha particle X-ray spectrometer analysis of the filter
magnets. Plans also called for Spirit to acquire sky images with the
panoramic camera and validate measurements of complete darkness by the
panoramic camera.

Sol 963 (Sept. 18, 2006): Plans called for Spirit to acquire images of
the rover's tracks with the navigation camera, take microscopic images
of the filter and capture magnets, and place the alpha particle X-ray
spectrometer on the capture magnet. Plans also called for the rover to
acquire hazard avoidance camera images of the work volume reached by
the
rover's robotic arm, monitor dust on the panoramic camera mast
assembly,
survey the horizon with the panoramic camera, and search for morning
clouds with the navigation camera.

Odometry:

As of sol 958 (Sept. 12, 2006), Spirit's total odometry remained at
6,876.18 meters (4.27 miles).

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #5 on: 09/18/2006 10:41 PM »
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Grinding into 'Cape Faraday' - sol 936-940,
September 15, 2006:

Opportunity is healthy and is currently driving toward "Victoria
Crater," which is a little over 100 meters (328 feet) away. On sol 936
(Sept. 11, 2006), a short bump was made to a robotic arm rock target
called "Cape Faraday" near the crater "Emma Dean." Opportunity drove
1.45 meters (4.8 feet) between sols 936-940.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 936 (Sept. 11, 2006): The morning of this sol saw the rover
monitoring the amount of dust on itself using the panoramic mast
assembly. Opportunity completed a panoramic camera tau, assessing the
clarity of the sky. The rover then bumped to the robotic arm target at
Emma Dean Crater and took a panoramic camera image of the arm's work
area. Another measurement was done before the Mars Odyssey pass. During
the pass, Opportunity used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer
and had a look at that instrument's calibration target.

Sol 937: Opportunity used the morning to examine certain points in the
sky with its panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission
spectrometer. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer took
measurements of the sky and ground, and the instrument's calibration
targets were examined.

Sol 938: Opportunity completed another assessment of the clarity of the
sky. The rover used its miniature thermal emission spectrometer to
measure points on the sky and ground and used its navigation camera to
search for clouds. The rover's miniature thermal emission spectrometer
had a look at targets "Thompson" and "Jones."

Sol 939: The rover did another assessment of the sky, a tau
measurement.
The rover used its microscopic imager to snap a photo of Cape Faraday
before grinding. The rock abrasion tool ground into the target and the
microscopic imager took the "after" shot. The panoramic camera took
images in the rover's driving direction. The alpha particle X-ray
spectrometer was used after the Odyssey pass.

Sol 940 (Sept. 15, 2005): On this morning, Opportunity used its
panoramic camera to examine targets in the sky and used the miniature
thermal emission spectrometer to look at the sky and ground. The rover
examined Cape Faraday with the Moessbauer spectrometer, and took a look
at the rock "Beaman" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
During the Odyssey pass, the rover investigated the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer calibration target.

As of sol 936, (Sept. 11, 2006) Opportunity's total odometry was
9130.29
meters (5.67 miles)

Offline Wisi

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #6 on: 09/27/2006 07:58 PM »
The MER mission has been extended again! http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0609/26rovers/

Now 31 month into the mission, Opportunity is heading towards the 10,000 meters mark! (Originally planned: 3 month and a few hundert meters)

Go Spirit, Go Opportunity

Offline Avron

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #7 on: 09/28/2006 03:26 AM »
If you have not had a chance.. get over to the JPLwebsite for a view of Victoria.. its something to behold

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #8 on: 10/07/2006 01:16 PM »
have a look at this: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2006-121

the rover opportunity spotted by MRO. Even the shadow of the camera mast of the vehicle is visible! An impressive demonstration of the power of MROs HiRISE-Camera.

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #9 on: 10/07/2006 09:24 PM »
Well, after all the rovers are NASA made :)
Isn't it incredible how humans can establish such a global system in an alien world - orbiters, rovers and soon landers?
Regards,
Atanas

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #10 on: 08/26/2008 06:36 PM »
RELEASE: 08-216

NASA'S MARS ROVER OPPORTUNITY CLIMBING OUT OF VICTORIA CRATER

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Exploration rover Opportunity is
heading back out to the Red Planet's surrounding plains nearly a year
after descending into a large Martian crater to examine exposed
ancient rock layers.

"We've done everything we entered Victoria Crater to do and more,"
said Bruce Banerdt, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif. Banerdt is project scientist for Opportunity and its rover
twin, Spirit.

Having completed its job in the crater, Opportunity is now preparing
to inspect loose cobbles on the plains. Some of these rocks,
approximately fist-size and larger, were thrown long distances when
objects hitting Mars blasted craters deeper than Victoria into the
Red Planet. Opportunity has driven past scores of cobbles but
examined only a few.

"Our experience tells us there's lots of diversity among the cobbles,"
said Scott McLennan of the State University of New York, Stony Brook.
McLennan is a long-term planning leader for the rover science team.
"We want to get a better characterization of them. A statistical
sampling from examining more of them will be important for
understanding the geology of the area."

Opportunity entered Victoria Crater on Sept. 11, 2007, after a year of
scouting from the rim. Once a drivable inner slope was identified,
the rover used contact instruments on its robotic arm to inspect the
composition and textures of accessible layers.

The rover then drove close to the base of a cliff called "Cape Verde,"
part of the crater rim, to capture detailed images of a stack of
layers 20 feet tall. The information Opportunity has returned about
the layers in Victoria suggest the sediments were deposited by wind
and then altered by groundwater.

"The patterns broadly resemble what we saw at the smaller craters
Opportunity explored earlier," McLennan said. "By looking deeper into
the layering, we are looking farther back in time." The crater
stretches approximately a half mile in diameter and is deeper than
any other seen by Opportunity.

Engineers are programming Opportunity to climb out of the crater at
the same place it entered. A spike in electric current drawn by the
rover's left front wheel last month quickly settled discussions about
whether to keep trying to edge even closer to the base of Cape Verde
on a steep slope. The spike resembled one seen on Spirit when that
rover lost the use of its right front wheel in 2006. Opportunity's
six wheels are all still working after 10 times more use than they
were designed to perform, but the team took the spike in current as a
reminder that one could quit.

"If Opportunity were driving with only five wheels, like Spirit, it
probably would never get out of Victoria Crater," said JPL's Bill
Nelson, a rover mission manager. "We also know from experience with
Spirit that if Opportunity were to lose the use of a wheel after it
is out on the level ground, mobility should not be a problem."

Opportunity now drives with its robotic arm out of the stowed
position. A shoulder motor has degraded over the years to the point
where the rover team chose not to risk having it stop working while
the arm is stowed on a hook. If the motor were to stop working with
the arm unstowed, the arm would remain usable.

Spirit has resumed observations after surviving the harshest weeks of
southern Martian winter. The rover won't move from its winter haven
until the amount of solar energy available to it increases a few
months from now. The rover has completed half of a full-circle color
panorama from its sun-facing location on the north edge of a low
plateau called "Home Plate."

"Both rovers show signs of aging, but they are both still capable of
exciting exploration and scientific discovery," said JPL's John
Callas, project manager for Spirit and Opportunity.

The team's plan for future months is to drive Spirit south of Home
Plate to an area where the rover last year found some bright,
silica-rich soil. This could be possible evidence of effects of hot
water.

For images and information about NASA's Opportunity and Spirit Mars
rovers, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/rovers

       

Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #11 on: 08/29/2008 09:20 PM »
NEWS RELEASE: 2008-168                                                              August 29, 2008

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Ascends to Level Ground

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has climbed out of the large crater that it had been examining from the inside since last September.

"The rover is back on flat ground," an engineer who drives it, Paolo Bellutta of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, announced to the mission's international team of scientists and engineers.

Opportunity used its own entry tracks from nearly a year ago as the path for a drive of 6.8 meters (22 feet) bringing the rover out over the top of the inner slope and through a sand ripple at the lip of Victoria Crater. The exit drive, conducted late Thursday, completed a series of drives covering 50 meters (164 feet) since the rover team decided about a month ago that it had completed its scientific investigations inside the crater.

"We're headed to the next adventure out on the plains of Meridiani," said JPL's John Callas, project manager for Opportunity and its twin Mars rover, Spirit. "We safely got into the crater, we completed our exploration there, and we safely got out. We were concerned that any wheel failure on our aging rover could have left us trapped inside the crater."

The Opportunity mission has focused on Victoria Crater for more than half of the 55 months since the rover landed in the Meridiani Planum region of equatorial Mars. The crater spans about 800 meters (half a mile) in diameter and reveals rock layers that hold clues to environmental conditions of the area through an extended period when the rocks were formed and altered.

The team selected Victoria as the next major destination after Opportunity exited smaller Endurance Crater in late 2004. The ensuing 22-month traverse to Victoria included stopping for studies along the route and escaping from a sand trap. The rover first reached the rim of Victoria in September 2007. For nearly a year, it then explored partway around the rim, checking for the best entry route and examining from above the rock layers exposed in a series of promontories that punctuate the crater perimeter.

Now that Opportunity has finished exploring Victoria Crater and returned to the surrounding plain, the rover team plans to use tools on the robotic arm in coming months to examine an assortment of cobbles -- rocks about fist-size and larger -- that may have been thrown from impacts that dug craters too distant for Opportunity to reach.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the rovers for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For images and information about NASA's Opportunity and Spirit Mars rovers, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov .


Offline jacqmans

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #12 on: 09/22/2008 05:06 PM »
RELEASE: 08-240

NASA'S MARS ROVER TO HEAD TOWARD BIGGER CRATER

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity is setting its
sights on a crater more than 20 times larger than its home for the
past two years.

To reach the crater the rover team calls Endeavour, Opportunity would
need to drive approximately 7 miles to the southeast, matching the
total distance it has traveled since landing on Mars in early 2004.
The rover climbed out of Victoria Crater earlier this month.

"We may not get there, but it is scientifically the right direction to
go anyway," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal
investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and its twin
rover, Spirit. "This crater is staggeringly large compared to
anything we've seen before."

Getting there would yield a look inside a bowl 13.7 miles across.
Scientists expect to see a much deeper stack of rock layers than
those examined by Opportunity in Victoria Crater.

"I would love to see that view from the rim," Squyres said. "But even
if we never get there, as we move southward we expect to be getting
to younger and younger layers of rock on the surface. Also, there are
large craters to the south that we think are sources of cobbles that
we want to examine out on the plain. Some of the cobbles are samples
of layers deeper than Opportunity will ever see, and we expect to
find more cobbles as we head toward the south."

Opportunity will have to pick up the pace to get there. The rover team
estimates Opportunity may be able to travel about 110 yards each day
it is driven toward the Endeavour crater. Even at that pace, the
journey could take two years.

"This is a bolder, more aggressive objective than we have had before,"
said John Callas, the project manager for both Mars rovers at NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's tremendously
exciting. It's new science. It's the next great challenge for these
robotic explorers."

Opportunity, like Spirit, is well past its expected lifetime on Mars,
and might not keep working long enough to reach the crater. However,
two new resources not available during the 4-mile drive toward
Victoria Crater in 2005 and 2006 are expected to aid in this new
trek.

One is imaging from orbit of details smaller than the rover itself,
using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera
on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which arrived at the Red
Planet in 2006.

"HiRISE allows us to identify drive paths and potential hazards on the
scale of the rover along the route," Callas said. "This is a great
example of how different parts of NASA's Mars Exploration Program
reinforce each other."

Other advantages come from a new version of flight software uplinked
to Opportunity and Spirit in 2006, boosting their ability to
autonomously choose routes and avoid hazards such as sand dunes.

During its first year on Mars, Opportunity found geological evidence
that the area where it landed had surface and underground water in
the distant past. The rover's explorations since have added
information about how that environment changed over time. Finding
rock layers above or below the layers already examined adds windows
into later or earlier periods of time.

NASA's JPL built and manage the rovers and the Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

For images and information about Spirit and Opportunity, visit:



http://www.nasa.gov/rovers   

Offline madscientist197

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #13 on: 09/24/2008 01:00 PM »
Wow - now that is an ambitious journey!
John

Offline glanmor05

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #14 on: 11/13/2008 09:01 PM »
Read this yesterday.

http://www.space.com/news/081112-mars-rover-spirit.html

Anyone have an update?
"Through struggles, to the stars."

Offline rdale

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #15 on: 11/13/2008 09:15 PM »
UMSF says they did hear from Spirit and a low-power fault did not occur.

Offline glanmor05

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #16 on: 11/13/2008 09:20 PM »
Thanks for that.  I worry about those little guys!
"Through struggles, to the stars."

Offline ShuttleDiscovery

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #17 on: 11/13/2008 09:36 PM »
Glad to know they're still going strong!

Offline rdale

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #18 on: 11/13/2008 09:38 PM »
Glad to know they're still going strong!

Actually they aren't - that's what he was posting about. Spirit is barely alive thanks in part to the dust storm, and there's some fear she won't make it through (although it seems to be getting out of the worst.)

Offline HIPAR

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Re: Mars Exploration Rovers Update
« Reply #19 on: 11/13/2008 11:38 PM »
Spirit's problem:

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA10128

Doesn't look good for her.

---  CHAS

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