NASA Mars Exploration Rover Status 2 November 2005

Status Report From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2005


OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Dusty Weekend - sol 627-630, Nov 02, 2005:

The three-sol plan for Opportunity's sols 627 to 629 (Oct. 29 to 31, 2005) began well, with a drive of 51 meters (164 feet) on the first sol. To allow as much time as possible for driving on that sol, the rover's usual post-drive imaging from its new location had been planned for the following sol. Overnight, Opportunity went into the deep-sleep mode for saving energy. The morning after a deep sleep, the rover wakes up when solar panels start putting out a prescribed level of energy. However, a dust storm in the Meridiani region reduced sunshine enough on the morning of sol 628 that Opportunity did not wake from deep sleep early enough for the first scheduled activities of that sol. The rover's onboard software properly put Opportunity into self-protective automode for the day, so the rover did not take the post-drive images. Analysis continued on Sunday, and the team uplinked commands on Monday to resume activities. On sol 630, Opportunity successfully took pictures showing the terrain surrounding its new position. Dustiness of the atmosphere above Opportunity diminished a little on sol 630, as indicated by increased output from the solar panels.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 627 (Oct. 29, 2005): In the first sol of a three-sol plan, Opportunity drove 51 meters (164 feet). Wheel slippage averaged 3.7 percent, with a peak of 18 percent. Maximum tilt during the drive was 11.5 degrees. A dust storm in the Margaritifer region near Meridiani had been noticed before plans were set for sol 627, so researchers had told Opportunity to check the clarity of the atmosphere a few times during the sol. Those observations saw a maximum atmospheric opacity ("tau") of 1.6, on a scale where 0 is perfectly clear, 1.0 is about as obscured as a smoggy day in Los Angeles, and an earlier dust storm at Meridiani reached 2.0 on sol 489. Opportunity's solar panels generated 593 watt hours on sol 627. That is about 100 watt hours less than on recent days before the dust storm, but still more than typical daily output during winter. The rover used deep-sleep mode overnight.

Sols 628 and 629: Output from the solar panels did not climb high enough to wake Opportunity from deep sleep until 7:38:50 in the morning, local solar time. This was nearly five minutes too late for its first scheduled activity of the day, turning on heaters to warm the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover realized it had woken up too late, so it properly put itself into protective automode. It remained in automode for sol 629. Solar panels' output was 479 watt hours on sol 628 and 470 watt hours on sol 629, indicating a diminished amount of sunlight getting through the dust.

Sol 630: The team sent commands for activities originally planned for sol 628. Opportunity returned to normal operations and took images of the surroundings at the location it had reached on sol 627. Solar panels produced 496 watt hours, which was enough to support an overnight UHF communications pass in addition to the imaging activities.

As of sol 630 (Nov. 1, 2005), Opportunity had driven a total of 6373.6 meters (3.96 miles).

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