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. Spirit Continues To Test New Computer Smarts

File photo of Mars rover Spirit.
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 15, 2007
On the rover's 1,068th sol, or Martian day of exploration on Mars (Jan. 4, 2007), Spirit used its new computer smarts to autonomously acquire images of the terrain using the hazard avoidance camera, construct a three-dimensional model of the terrain, identify rock or soil exposures of interest, and generate plans for placing the Moessbauer spectrometer and microscopic imager on 10 of those targets.

Spirit's twin, the Opportunity rover on the other side of Mars, completed the same exercise. The next step of the testing process for both rovers will be to actually place scientific instruments on a target of interest.

Spirit spent much of the past week studying a layered rock exposure known as "Montalva." During the study, the rover used the brush on the rock abrasion tool, the microscopic imager, the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer that collects information about elemental composition, and the Moessbauer spectrometer that identifies iron-bearing minerals.

Plans called for Spirit to observe three transits of the Martian moon Phobos as it passed between the rover and the sun on sols 1075 (Jan. 11, 2007), 1077 (Jan. 13, 2007), and 1078 (Jan. 14, 2007).

Sol-by-sol summary

Sol 1070 (Jan. 6, 2006): Spirit unstowed the robotic arm and brushed the surface of Montalva, acquired a microscopic image of the rock, and placed the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer on it for elemental analysis. Before shutting down for the evening, Spirit measured atmospheric dust using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1071: Spirit acquired a full-color image, using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera, of a boulder nicknamed "Davis." It also used the navigation camera for images of scientific targets, and used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to measure atmospheric dust and to surveyed the sky and ground, while communicating with the Odyssey orbiter in the afternoon.

Sol 1072: Spirit scanned the foreground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, acquired 4 hours worth of data using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer, monitored atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, and took images of the sky for calibration purposes.

Sol 1073: Spirit swung the robotic arm out of view to collect full-color, 13-filter images of Montalva with the panoramic camera and acquired 4 hours of worth of data using the Moessbauer spectrometer. The rover scanned the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, monitored dust accumulation on the rover mast, measured atmospheric dust, and imaged the sky for calibration purposes.

Sol 1074: Spirit used the navigation camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer observe a nearby rock known as "Kohnen" and another target known as "Amundsen." Spirit fired up the Moessbauer spectrometer for another 3 hours worth of analysis of Montalva. The rover turned off the Moessbauer spectrometer and monitored atmospheric dust.

Sol 1075: Spirit observed the morning transit of Phobos using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, fired up the Moessbauer for an overnight observation, acquired thumbnail images of the sky using the panoramic camera, and searched for dust devils by acquiring video frames using the navigation camera.

Sol 1076: Plans called for Spirit to use the Moessbauer spectrometer for another 3 hours of study of Montalva and to take images of the sky for calibration purposes with the navigation and panoramic cameras. Spirit was also to monitor atmospheric dust and pre-position the panoramic camera to acquire images of the next day's transit of Phobos.

Sol 1077: Plans called for Spirit to acquire images of the sky for calibration purposes while communicating directly with Earth using the high-gain antenna. Plans also called for Spirit to use the Moessbauer for 12 hours of analysis of Montalva, heat up the electronics inside the panoramic camera, and acquire images of the Phobos transit with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1078 (Jan. 14, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to scan the sky for clouds using the navigation camera, study a target known as "Svarthammaren," and survey the sky and ground during the Phobos transit at 1:45 p.m. local solar time using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover was to survey targets known as "Sejong" and "Amery" and search the sky for clouds again the following morning using the navigation camera.

Odometry As of sol 1075 (Jan. 11, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,895 meters (4.28 miles).

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MRO Conducts Details Survery Of Mars Pathfinder Landing Site And Surroundings
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 11, 2007
The high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has imaged the 1997 landing site of NASA's Mars Pathfinder, revealing new details of hardware on the surface and the geology of the region. Pathfinder landed on July 4, 1997, and transmitted data for 12 weeks. Unlike the two larger rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, currently active on Mars, Sojourner could communicate only with the lander, not directly with Earth.

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