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One Thousand Paces On Mars

a slow but steady trundle across Mars. Full size image
Pasadena (JPL) Apr 27, 2004
After a successful weekend of driving on sols 108 and 109, Spirit kicked off its week with a 140-meter (459.3 feet) drive over sols 110 and 111 toward its destination at the base of the "Columbia Hills."

Spirit began sol 110, which ended at 7:10 a.m. PDT on April 25, 2004, with a stretch of its "arm" to take microscopic imager pictures of an area of soil called "Waffle Flats." It then placed the Moessbauer spectrometer instrument on that spot for a 90-minute integration. Spirit did double-duty and was able to get panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer images of the area for localization and science purposes while the Moessbauer was at work.

Spirit then stowed its instrument deployment device and began an 80-meter (262.5 feet) drive, half of it directed by rover planners and half using the autonomous navigation software.

During the autonomous navigation portion, the rover detected a hazard and did not complete the final short-drive intended at the end of the journey. Images from the front hazard avoidance camera show no sign of a hazard, leaving rover controllers with a bit of a mystery to investigate.

Following the drive, Spirit took panoramic camera and navigation camera images in the drive direction and performed atmospheric science with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 111, which ended at 7:50 a.m. PDT on April 26, 2004, was also a sol full of driving for Spirit. After acquiring panoramic camera images of its surroundings and completing atmospheric science with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer, the rover began its drive.

Spirit successfully completed a 60.8-meter (199.5 feet) drive toward the Columbia Hills and then acquired navigation and panoramic camera images of the driving direction. Spirit ended the day with mini thermal emission spectrometer observations of the soil and then a coordinated mini thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera study of the atmosphere.

Finishing Up at 'Fram'
On Opportunity's 88th sol, which ended at 6:12 p.m. PDT on April 23, the rover team decided that although "Fram Crater" was an intriguing depression, the potential hazards and the time involved in investigating it made it more of a tour stop than a destination.

With the goal of "Endurance Crater" in mind, the rover finished its investigation of the rock called "Pilbara." A final Moessbauer spectrometer measurement was taken, and then the miniature thermal emission spectrometer studied the recently carved rock abrasion tool hole.

The rover then successfully drove out onto the nearby plains for a photometry experiment (measurement of light detectable by the human eye). The 33-meter (about 108 feet) south-easterly drive ended with a front wheel "scuff" mark in the soil.

On the rover's 89th sol, which ended at 6:52 p.m. PDT on April 24, the microscopic imager photographed a soil target called "Nougat" within the scuff. A Moessbauer spectrometer reading of the target followed.

The photometry experiment continued on this sol along with miniature thermal emission spectrometer remote sensing.

Related Links
Mars Rovers at JPL
Mars Rovers at Cornell
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NASA Develops Decision Support Software For Mars Mission
Moffett Field CA - Apr 27, 2004
A new ground-based science planning support system developed for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission is helping NASA scientists create plans and program computer command sequences for the twin rovers' daily operations.

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