NASA Mars Exploration Rover Update 17 May 2005


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SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Observing 'Reef' - sol 477-482, May 17, 2005

Spirit remains in excellent health. On sols 477, 478 and 479 (May 7 to May 9, 2005), Spirit made observations with remote-sensing instruments and analyzed soil targets with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and M?ssbauer spectrometer. Spirit then performed a short drive to a target called "Keel," on the outcrop called "Jibsheet." On sol 481, Spirit was able to begin observing a target called "Reef," using the microscopic imager and performing a 16-hour integration with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. On sol 482 (May 12), Spirit continued work on Reef with instruments on the robotic arm, and performed a 21-hour integration with the M?ssbauer spectrometer.

Spirit's total odometry as of May 12, 2005, is 4,341.19 meters (2.70 miles).

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Progress Inch-by-Inch for Opportunity - sol 465-466, May 17, 2005

On Opportunity's first three drives to get out of the sand trap, the rover has advanced a total of 7.4 centimeters (2.9 inches) in getting off the dune. Each of the first two drives -- one on sol 463 and one on sol 465 -- turned the wheels about two and a half rotations, enough to drive two meters (7 feet) if there were no slippage. Images from the hazard-avoidance cameras taken during the drives show that some of caked powder adhering to wheels between cleats had come off. The team was encouraged by the results, and decided go ahead with a 4-meter (13-foot) commanded drive for sol 466.

Sol-by- sol summaries:

Sol 465 (May 15, 2005): Opportunity rotated its wheels in a series of 10 steps, each step enough to roll 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) if there were no slippage. The wheels are slipping a great deal in the sand of the dune, but the rover advanced better than anticipated from simulated tests, covering 1.9 centimeters (0.7 inch). The rover used its panoramic camera for observations of the sky and dunes.

Sol 466 (May 16, 2005): Results from the sol 465 drive were good (some wheel cleats are clean and the rover is making forward progress), so the team commanded a drive that, if there were no slippage, would roll 4 meters (13 feet), consisting of ten 40-centimeter (16 inch) steps. Opportunity gained an additional 2.7 centimeters (1.1 inch). The panoramic camera made more observations of the atmosphere and dunes.

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