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Opportunity Takes Microscopic Images, Collaborates With Mars Express

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by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 31, 2006
Opportunity remains healthy following another busy week. The main activity last week was taking microscopic images of a feature nicknamed "Lower Overgaard." The science team identified individual, high-priority targets of interest, nicknamed "Scotch," "Bourbon," and "Branchwater."

After the microscopic imager successfully acquired images of "Scotch," one of the actuator motors on Opportunity's robotic arm (Joint 2, which controls elevation) stalled less than 1 milliradian from its final position.

Engineers performed diagnostic activities on Joint 2 over the weekend and determined that the actuator appeared to function properly. Opportunity resumed work with the microscopic imager but was unsuccessful because of a stall on the Joint 1 actuator. Engineers increased the electrical resistance and Opportunity again began acquiring microscopic images.

This past week, Opportunity also supported coordinated observations with the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft, using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera, and also took images of a transit across the sun by Phobos. Science team members next plan to adjust the rover's position slightly to conduct microscopic analysis of another target area, nicknamed "Upper Overgaard."

Sol-by-sol summaries

Sol 708 (Jan. 21, 2006): Opportunity took microscopic images of a surface target dubbed Scotch on Lower Overgaard. Microscopic imaging was successful, but the Joint 2 (elevation) actuator motor on the rover's robotic arm stalled less than 1 milliradian from its final position.

Sol 709: Opportunity conducted diagnostics of Joint 2 during the weekend and acquired images of a Phobos transit.

Sol 710: Opportunity conducted remote science observations and supported Mars Express observations using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera.

Sol 711: Opportunity took thumbnail images of the sky and images of Mars' albedo (a measure of surface reflectivity) with the panoramic camera in support of a coordinated observations by Mars Express.

Sol 712: Opportunity took super-high-resolution images of targets known as "Loupp" and "Dewey" with the panoramic camera.

Sol 713: As Opportunity began executing a plan to take microscopic images of the Bourbon target on Lower Overgaard, a joint on the rover's robotic arm (Joint 1, which controls shoulder azimuth) stalled, preventing acquisition of the microscopic images.

Sol 714 (Jan. 27, 2006): Opportunity re-acquired some of the microscopic images of the target Scotch that were not fully in focus when first taken on sol 708 (Jan. 21, 2006).

As of sol 714, Opportunity's total odometry remained at 6504.55 meters (4.04 miles).

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Celebrating Two Years Of Mars Express Discoveries
Moscow, Russia (SPX) Jan 27, 2006
Mars Express, the spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency into a near Martian orbit, will have been in business for two years in January 2006. This project - the successor to Russia's Mars-96 - has been a major achievement of European and Russian planetary science.

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