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Opportunity Continues Reading The Story In The Rocks

File image.
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (SPX) Apr 14, 2008
Opportunity has finished grinding into the surface and acquiring microscopic images of a rock target informally named "Gilbert," at the bottom of the alcove inside "Victoria Crater" known as "Duck Bay." The rover is in the middle of a campaign to study the composition of the exposed interior of the rock using both the Mossbauer and alpha-particle X-ray spectrometers.

Some time next week, Opportunity is expected to begin driving toward the spectacular promontory in the crater rim known as "Cape Verde" for some close-up imaging.

Because of Opportunity's tilt inside the crater relative to the path of the Mars Odyssey orbiter as it travels across the Martian sky, Opportunity has had difficulty relaying data via UHF links to Odyssey. In the afternoon of Martian day, or sol, 1473 (March 16, 2008), sending data at a rate of 128 kilobits per second, Opportunity returned only 9.5 megabytes of data.

On sol 1475 (March 18, 2008), transmitting data at a rate of 32 kilobits per second, Opportunity returned only 3.4 megabytes of data. The rover made up for lost time, however, transmitting 129 megabytes and 91 megabytes on sols 1474 (March 17, 2008) and 1476 (March 19, 2008), respectively.

Power levels continue to drop as expected for the winter season.

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to receiving instructions directly from Earth via the rover's high-gain antenna, relaying data to Earth via the UHF antenna on the Mars Odyssey orbiter, and measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1471 (March 14, 2008): Opportunity acquired data about iron-bearing minerals in a rock target known as "Dorsal New" using the Mossbauer spectrometer. The rover acquired part 10 of the super-resolution panorama of the rim of Victoria Crater, known as the rimshot, using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1472: Opportunity retracted the robotic arm, acquired full-color images of "Dorsal" using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera, and moved the robotic arm back into position to place the rock abrasion tool above Dorsal New. The rover then completed a grind-scan maneuver with the rock abrasion tool to locate the surface of the rock target.

Opportunity also surveyed the sky and the horizon with the panoramic camera, acquired parts 11 and 12 of the super-resolution rimshot of Victoria Crater with the panoramic camera, scanned the sky for clouds with the navigation camera, and took spot images of the sky for calibration purposes with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1473: Opportunity acquired parts 13 and 14 of the super-resolution rimshot of Victoria Crater with the panoramic camera, measured argon gas in the Martian atmosphere with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer, and took images of the sky (known as "sky flats") for calibration purposes with the navigation camera.

Sol 1474: Opportunity monitored dust on the panoramic-camera mast assembly and surved the horizon with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1475: Opportunity ground into the surface of Dorsal New with the rock abrasion tool, swung the robotic arm out of the way, and took panoramic-camera images of the freshly ground surface.

Sol 1476: Opportunity acquired movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera and took spot images of the sky with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1477 (March 20, 2008): Opportunity acquired a 2-by-2-by-5 stack of microscopic images, along with eight extra microscopic images, of the freshly abraded rock surface, and placed the Mossbauer spectrometer on the target for further study.


As of sol 1476 (March 19, 2008), Opportunity's total odometry was 11,671.23 meters (7.25 miles).

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Spirit Advances Toward Midwinter
Pasadena CA (SPX) Apr 10, 2008
Seasons are about twice as long on Mars as on Earth and are offset relative to Earth because Mars takes about twice as long to complete one orbit around the Sun. At Spirit's location, the fall equinox -- the start of fall, when night and day are equal in length -- arrived Dec. 12, 2007. The winter solstice -- the time of year with the shortest day -- will arrive June 25, 2008.

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