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M I S S I O N     M A N A G E R S   
Scott Lever, Mission manager Mike Seibert, Mission manager Al Herrera, Mission manager
Scott Lever Mike Seibert Al Herrera
P R E V I O U S    M I S S I O N    M A N A G E R S
Matt Keuneke, Mission Manager Cindy Oda, Mission Manager Rich Morris, Mission Manager Bill Nelson, Mission manager
Matt Keuneke Cindy Oda Richard Morris Bill Nelson
Byron Jones, Mission Manager Mark Adler, Mission Manager Leo Bister, Mission manager Beth Dewell, Mission Manager
Byron Jones Mark Adler Leo Bister Beth Dewell
Emily Eelkema, Mission Manager Jeff Favretto, Mission Manager Soina Ghandchi, Mission Manager Andy Mishkin, Mission Manager
Emily Eelkema Jeff Favretto Saina Ghandchi Andy Mishkin
Art Thompson, Mission Manager Rick Welch, Mission Manager Colette Lohr, Mission Manager Dan Gaines, Mission Manager
Art Thompson Rick Welch Colette Lohr Dan Gaines

sol 695-702, Dec 29, 2005: Spirit on 'Horseback'

Spirit is healthy. The rover drove 8.3 meters (27 feet) and perfectly positioned itself in front of a rock informally named "Comanche." Spirit performed work with the instruments on the robotic arm on a target called "Horseback" at Comanche. The rock abrasion tool's brush was only partially successful in making contact with Horseback, so the team moved the robotic arm to different target informally called "Palomino." Spirit performed a successful brushing and continued with more investigations using the other instruments on the robotic arm.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 695 (Dec. 17, 2005): Spirit performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 696: Spirit performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 697: Spirit approached "Comanche Spur" by driving 8.3 meters (27 feet).

Sol 698: Spirit took a picture of the target Horseback on Comanche Spur with the microscopic imager. The plan was for Spirit then to brush the target area with the rock abrasion tool's brush and afterwards perform observations with the Mössbauer spectrometer and microscopic imager. The brushing did not occur due to the rock abrasion tool losing contact with the target.

Sol 699: Spirit performed a short Mössbauer spectrometer integration and tried again to use the rock abrasion tool's brush on Horseback. The brush only cleared off roughly 20 percent of the target.

Sol 700: Spirit successfully brushed another area on Comanche, called Palomino. After the brushing, Spirit took pictures of Palomino using the microscopic imager. Spirit also studied Palomino with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 701: Spirit studied Palomino with the Mössbauer spectrometer and performed remote sensing.

Sol 702 (Dec. 24, 2005): Spirit studied Palomino with the Mössbauer spectrometer and performed remote sensing again.

As of sol 700 (Dec. 22, 2005), Spirit's total odometry is 5,673 meters (3.53 miles).


sol 689-694, Dec 29, 2005: Spirit Approaching 'Comanche'

Spirit's main focus was to reach the target informally named "Comanche." Spirit successfully progressed 113 meters (371 feet). Spirit also performed three observations at night of the moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 689 (Dec. 11, 2005): Spirit performed a 22-hour integration with the Mössbauer spectrometer, took images with the panoramic camera, imaged dust devils with the navigation camera, and performed stares with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 690: Spirit drove for 37 meters (121 feet) toward Comanche using a combination of "blind" driving and autonomous navigation. Spirit observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 691: Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing using the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit observed Deimos at night.

Sol 692: Spirit drove 38 meters (125 feet) toward Comanche. Spirit observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 693: Spirit took pre-drive imaging of targets informally named "Miami," "Paiute," and "Teepee." Spirit drove 38 meters (125 feet) toward Comanche.

Sol 694: The plan is to drive about 40 meters (131 feet) toward Comanche. At the time of this report, the sol 694 sequence had not executed yet.

As of sol 693 (Dec. 15, 2005), Spirit's total odometry is 5,624 meters (3.49 miles).


sol 680-688, Dec 12, 2005: Spirit Studying 'Algonquin'

This week Spirit drove to an outcrop area informally named "Algonquin." On sol 685, Spirit successfully drove for 15 meters (49 feet) and prepared for a series of robotic-arm activities planned for sol 687 to 690 at Algonquin. Plans are to proceed downhill to "Comanche" after that.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 680 (Dec. 1, 2005): Spirit drove 30 meters (98 feet) toward a feature between "Miami" and Comanche.

Sol 681: Spirit performed remote sensing during the day and observed the moon Phobos at night.

Sol 682: Spirit took images of Algonquin, "Miami," "Pima," and "Yaqui" with the panoramic camera. Spirit observed Yaqui, Pima, Algonquin, "Meentwioni," and "Myammia" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 683: A planned drive toward Algonquin was not executed.

Sol 684: Spirit took images of a dust devil, did a near-field survey with the panoramic camera, and used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer during the day and at night.

Sol 685: Spirit successfully drove 16 meters (52 feet) to the Algonquin outcrop.

Sol 686: Spirit performed remote sensing during the day and observed the moon Phobos at night.

Sol 687: Spirit used the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to study a feature informally called "Iroquet," which is located on the Algonquin outcrop.

Sol 688: Spirit used the rock abrasion tool's brush on Iroquet for 25 minutes, and then continued observations of Iroquet with the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

As of the end of sol 686, (Dec. 8, 2005), Spirit had driven 5,510 meters (3.42 miles).


sol 668-680, Dec 01, 2005: Downhill Progress

Spirit is healthy and making good progress downhill. The short-term goal is to drive toward couple of interesting features dubbed "Comanche" and "Miami." A decision on which target to choose for close examination will be made after the drive images come down from sol 680 (Dec. 1, 2005).

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Spirit used all four devices on its robotic arm -- the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, the Mössbauer spectrometer, the microscopic imager, and the rock abrasion tool (the brush on the abrasion tool) -- to study an outcrop area called "Seminole. The two targets for use of those tools on this outcrop were informally named "Abiaka" and "Osceola". The names refer to native American tribes in Florida. The investigations of the targets' composition identified abundant olivine and indicated that the outcrop is mafic (bearing a class of usually dark-colored minerals rich in magnesium and iron).

As of sol 679 (Nov. 30, 2005), Spirit has driven 5,463 meters (3.39 miles).


sol 660-667, Nov 18, 2005: Spirit Observing Meteor Shower

Spirit is healthy and making good progress downhill. The rover performed an extensive campaign with the tools on the robotic arm at an outcrop called "Larry's Bench" and made targeted observations with other instruments. The team has been taking advantage of every drive sol, averaging about 40 meters (131 feet) per sol.

Mars is currently passing through a debris trail of Halley's comet, and Spirit is attempting to observe resulting meteor showers with the panoramic camera at night.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 660 (Nov. 11, 2005): Spirit performed robotic-arm work on Larry's Bench. Spirit took pictures of Larry's Bench with the microscopic imager before and after the rock abrasion tool brushed the area. Spirit used the panoramic camera to take pictures of the eastern part of the hill and took images in the direction Spirit plans to drive. Spirit used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and attempted to observe the Odyssey orbiter at night.

Sol 661: Spirit performed a long integration with the Mössbauer spectrometer, targeted observations with the panoramic camera (pointed towards "Husband Hill" summit), and targeted stares with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 662: Spirit performed a long integration with the Mössbauer spectrometer, targeted observations with the panoramic camera, atmospheric science, and more stares with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 663: Spirit performed a long integration with the Mössbauer spectrometer, made targeted observations with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and did a meteor search at night.

Sol 664: Spirit stowed the robotic arm, took panoramic-camera images of the arm's work area, and drove 38 meters (125 feet) downhill.

Sol 665: Spirit drove 42 meters (138 feet) downhill.

Sol 666: Spirit drove 40 meters (131 feet) downhill.

Sol 667: No scientifically outstanding targets for the robotic arm were seen near the rover's current location, so the team planned a long drive. The team does not have good images that show the view over the ridge, so the rover will use autonomous navigation and drive with a reduced tilt limit to traverse safely downhill.

As of the end of sol 667, (Nov. 18, 2005), Spirit has driven 5,392 meters (3.35 miles).


sol 655-659, Nov 11, 2005: Spirit Coordinating with Hubble

Spirit is healthy. The rover is out of restricted sols and has been making excellent progress. On sol 655, Spirit drove 94.5 meters (310 feet)! The total drive distance from sol 655 to sol 659 was 126 meters (413 feet). Spirit also took a large panoramic camera mosaic looking back at the "East Basin" for a long-baseline stereo observation. Spirit made other observations with the panoramic camera for coordinated science with the Hubble Space Telescope.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 655 (Nov. 5, 2005): Spirit drove 94.5 meters (310 feet) southeast down onto "Lower Haskin Ridge." The maximum uphill slip was 10 percent at the beginning of the drive. The maximum downhill slip was three percent.

Sol 656: Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing and began observations in coordination with Hubble Space Telescope. The observations included a sky survey, an atmospheric opacity reading, calibration target readings and a horizon survey.

Sol 657: Spirit took a targeted panoramic camera mosaic back at East Basin for the second observation of the long-baseline stereo view. Spirit also performed targeted stares with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 658: Spirit drove 24 meters (79 feet) at a heading of 180 degrees, with an average slip of three percent.

Sol 659: Spirit drove back 8 meters (26 feet) to an outcrop of interest for inspecting with tools on the robotic arm.

As of the end of sol 659, (Nov. 10, 2005), Spirit has driven 5,273 meters (3.28 miles).


sol 647-654, Nov 04, 2005: Spirit Imaging "East Basin"

Sprit is healthy. The team operated in "restricted sols" from sol 647 to 654. (Restricted sols occur when the timing of the communications pass from the Odyssey orbiter is too late in the day to gather vital location and health information about the rover after it executed recent commands. The team back on Earth must wait until the next sol to find out where and how the rover is.)

The team planned two long Mössbauer integrations and drove 34 meters (112 feet). On sols 653 and 654, the team planned targeted remote sensing of the "East Basin." This is one of the last opportunities to image it before the basin is no longer in sight.

Spirit also completed three overnight observations. The team returns to standard planning sols the week of Nov. 7, intending to continue driving downhill.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 647 (Oct. 28, 2005): Spirit performed a 22-hour reading with the Mössbauer spectrometer and made night sky observations.

Sol 648: Spirit performed a 23-hour Mössbauer reading.

Sol 649: Spirit drove 18 meters (59 feet).

Sol 650: Spirit performed remote sensing and made night sky observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 651: Spirit drove 16 meters (52 feet).

Sol 652: Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing and made night sky observations.

Sol 653: Spirit performed targeted remote sensing of the East Basin.

Sol 654 (Nov. 4, 2005): Spirit performed targeted remote sensing.

As of sol 654, Spirit has driven 5,143.63 meters (3.20 miles)


sol 641-646, Nov 04, 2005: Spirit in "Kansas"

Spirit drove to an outcrop informally named "Kansas" to prepare for a series of robotic arm activities on a target called "Kestrel."

Engineers tested a new UHF-only operation for Spirit. Throughout the mission, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has been successfully receiving data from the rovers using its UHF (ultra-high frequency) antenna and relaying the data to Earth. In the new UHF-only operation, the team attempted to demonstrate how Spirit could also receive commands from Mars Odyssey via UHF antennas. Spirit usually receives commands through its high gain antenna, which collects radio waves in the X-band sent directly from Deep Space Network antennas on Earth.

During sols 641 through 645, Mars Odyssey attempted both to send commands to Spirit and to collect data from Spirit. The commanding was successful on sols 640 and 645, but on sol 644, during receipt of the command bundles, Spirit's computer reset due to flight software difficulties with handling the command loads at the rate of 8 kilobits per second. As a result, all the active sequences were deactivated and Spirit went to automode.

On sol 646, Spirit recovered from automode and continued the robotic arm work on Kestrel.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 641 (Oct. 22, 2005): Spirit performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 642: Spirit drove toward the outcrop Kansas to prepare for using tools on its robotic arm to study the outcrop. The drive was successful.

Sol 643: Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing and attempted to observe meteors at night. The team could not confirm any meteors in the pictures from sol 643.

Sol 644: The original plan for sol 644 was to deploy the robotic arm, then to take images of the target area Kestrel with the microscopic imager both before and after brushing the area with the rock abrasion tool. The plan also included an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading of the brushed surface at night. A computer reset occurred during the morning Odyssey communications pass of sol 644, and the rover went into automode, so it did not carry out the original plan.

Sol 645: Spirit remained in automode on sol 645, but data indicated that the rover was healthy. Commands were then sent successfully via the Odyssey spacecraft's UHF antenna.

Sol 646: Spirit carried out the science activities from sol 644's plan. The rover is back to normal operation.

As of the end of sol 646, (Oct. 27, 2005), Spirit has driven 5,113 meters (3.18 miles).


sol 634-640, Oct 21, 2005: Spirit Begins Downhill Drive

Spirit is healthy and has begun driving downhill from the top of "Husband Hill" toward the south basin. Elevation maps produced from the panoramic camera imagery taken at and near the summit of Husband Hill showed a safe traverse (with vehicle tilts under about 20 degrees) across ridge lines east of the summit. These ridge lines (informally called "Haskin upper ridge" and "Haskin east ridge") are the planned traverse paths for coming weeks. When possible, Spirit will drive each day.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 634 (Oct. 15, 2005): Spirit finished investigating a rock outcrop called "Hillary" near the summit of Husband Hill. Spirit used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the microscopic imager to study Hillary, then Spirit stowed the robotic arm. Spirit bumped back about 2 meters (7 feet) from the outcrop to complete remote imaging. Spirit used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera to study targets on Hillary.

Sol 635: Spirit drove 47 meters (154 feet) east from the summit.

Sol 636: Spirit took images with the navigation camera and performed atmospheric observations.

Sol 637: Spirit drove 20 meters (66 feet) during the first of a series of drives toward Haskin upper ridge. There is an apparent drop-off near this ridge; therefore, each drive begins with a short 10-meter (33-foot) "blind" drive, followed by drives using hazard-avoidance cameras and decreased limits on how far the rover can tilt in any direction. The intent is to stop a drive short of any significant change in local elevation.

Sol 638: Spirit drove 29 meters (95 feet) during the second drive to the Haskin upper ridge. Spirit also observed the moons Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 639: Spirit covered 17 meters (56 feet) during the third drive of the approach to Haskin upper ridge. This left Spirit about 15 meters (49 feet) from the drop-off and near an area with rock outcrops.

Sol 640: Spirit's planned activities for sol 640 were devoted to remote sensing of the east basin, expected to be within view after the third leg of the sol 639 drive.

As of the end of sol 639, (Oct. 20, 2005), Spirit has driven 5,107 meters (3.17 miles).


sol 626-633, Oct 17, 2005: Spirit Wiggles into a Sturdy Workspace

Spirit is healthy and spent the week examining a rock called "Hillary" at the true summit of "Husband Hill." The first attempt to approach Hillary ended with a small pebble under Spirit's left front wheel, and the stability of the rover was uncertain. A set of wheel wiggles was performed to stabilize the rover before deployment of the robotic arm. Once the wheel was in good contact with the ground, Spirit began a conservative robotic-arm campaign, started with Mössbauer spectrometer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integrations.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 626 (Oct. 6, 2005): Spirit began sol 626 on a steep slope, with Hillary in the work area. However, the right front wheel did not look like it was in stable contact with the ground. A set of three wheel wiggles and a final move to steer the wheels against the slip direction reduced Spirit's overall tilt by two degrees.

After looking at several images, rover meshes and RSVP simulations, the planning team was able to determine that the wheel was in a more stable area than it had been earlier. Rover meshes are three-dimensional terrain maps that are created by rover team members by "gluing" together multiple pieces of data from the hazard-avoidance cameras (up-close images), navigation cameras (middle distance images), and panoramic cameras (far-away images) to give a view of the Martian landscape for multiple tactical purposes. RSVP stands for Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program. The rover planners use this software tool to plan sequences of commands for driving and robotic arm work. It can simulate the sequence, showing a model of the rover superimposed on actual images of the Martian terrain.

Sol 627: Spirit deployed the robotic arm. When the arm is deployed while the rover is on a slope, the degree to which the rover is tilting may change. The team expected a change of less than 0.3 degrees and saw only a 0.005 degree change.

Sol 628: Robotic arm work continued with a Mössbauer spectrometer placement on the first of two targets. Targeted remote sensing was also performed.

Sol 629: Spirit continued Mössbauer spectrometer integration and remote sensing.

Sol 630: Spirit changed tools to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and made observations with the navigation camera.

Sol 631: Spirit placed the Mössbauer spectrometer on a second target, performed targeted remote sensing and made nighttime observations with the panoramic camera.

Sol 632: Spirit continued the Mössbauer spectrometer integration and remote sensing. The rover also used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer at night.

Sol 633: Spirit took pictures of targets on Hillary using the microscopic imager, performed an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration at night and checked for dust devils.

As of the end of sol 633, (Oct. 13, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,993 meters (3.10 miles).


sol 620-626, Oct 10, 2005: Spirit Preparing for Robotic Arm Work

Spirit is healthy and still performing science in the summit area of "Husband Hill." The rover has acquired a 360-degree panorama from the top of Husband Hill, and has performed remote sensing of other targets of interest. Spirit drove back down to the clean face of the rock outcrop called "Hillary" to find a good position to perform work with the robotic arm.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 620 to 622 (Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, 2005): While perched on the summit of Husband Hill, Spirit spent the weekend acquiring a 360-degree color mosaic. Team members took this opportunity to place the Mössbauer spectrometer on Spirit's compositional calibration target for a three-sol integration.

The compositional calibration target provides an independent, external reference source for calibrating the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mössbauer spectrometer. Both instruments also have their own internal calibration reference targets. The compositional calibration target is made of a piece of magnetite rock from Earth, bonded to an aluminum base plate and covered by a protective coating that the Mössbauer spectrometer cannot detect.

The science team also wanted new measurements of the compositional calibration target with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to supplement measurements from sols 614 to 619, but rover planners saw a rock under the rover. If the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer were on the compositional calibration target, the rock abrasion tool would be too close to this hazard. The resolution was to do only a Mössbauer spectrometer integration.

Sol 623: There is a fascinating outcrop at the summit called Hillary. From the panoramic camera position on top of the summit, Spirit could access only very dusty areas of Hillary. On sol 623, Spirit began the approach to the clean face. However, the drive did not take place due to a sequencing error.

Sol 624: The second approach attempt succeeded, with a 12-meter (39-foot) drive. From the new location, Spirit imaged potential workspace for the robotic arm. The images allowed rover planners to determine the best way to bump into position for robotic arm work.

Sol 625: A 3.4-meter (11.15-foot) bump put the desired target into the work space. However, the left front wheel is perched upon a small rock and not in full contact with the ground.

Sol 626: Since engineers could not tell if the rover was 100-percent stable, the team decided not to deploy the robotic arm. Instead, the plan is for Spirit to perform small maneuvers. The hazard-avoidance cameras will take images at every step to stabilize the rover and confirm that it is in a safe position to perform robotic arm work.

As of the end of sol 626, (Oct. 6, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,993 meters (3.10 miles).


sol 614-619, Sept 29, 2005: Spirit Reaches True Summit

Spirit is healthy and has provided a spectacular view from the top of "Husband Hill." The rover has acquired numerous panoramas from both the navigation camera and panoramic camera. Spirit took coordinated observations with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and observed the moons Phobos and Deimos at night. Spirit has reached the true summit, which is in the eastern portion of the nearly level hilltop crest that Spirit reached in late August. Plans are to drive to a good imaging location. From the new location, Spirit will acquire a panorama of the plains and valleys below.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 614 (Sept. 24, 2005): Spirit took a panorama of "Tennessee Valley," and performed targeted remote sensing and atmospheric science. A planned Mössbauer spectrometer reading was not completed, due to a sequencing error.

Sol 615: Spirit used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the compositional calibration target and took a picture of the compositional calibration target with the microscopic imager. The compositional calibration target provides an independent, external reference source for calibrating the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mössbauer spectrometer. Both instruments also have their own internal calibration reference targets. The compositional calibration target is made of a piece of magnetite rock from Earth, bonded to an aluminum base plate and covered by a protective coating that the Mössbauer spectrometer cannot detect. On sol 615, Spirit also performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 616: Spirit drove about 10 meters (33 feet) towards the true summit and observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 617: Spirit took pictures from "Position 2" for a stereo panorama. Spirit also observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 618: Spirit drove 14 meters (46 feet) closer to "True Summit." Mid-drive, Spirit stopped to take a picture of a target called "Hillary." The informal name is in honor of Edmund Hillary. Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to climb to the top of Mount Everest. They reached the summit on May 29, 1953. That summit, at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) above sea level, is the highest place on Earth. The summit of Husband Hill is 106 meters (about 348 feet) above the Spirit landing site.

Sol 619: The plan is for Spirit to drive about 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) to the summit imaging location. Once at the new location, the plan is for Spirit to take a 360-degree panorama using the navigation camera.

As of the end of sol 618, (Sept. 29, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,973 meters (3.09 miles).


sol 606-613, Sept 23, 2005: Looking over Tennessee Valley

Spirit completed a campaign of using the tools on its robotic arm to examine the feature "Cliffhanger." Spirit scuffed the soil using its wheels in the area around Cliffhanger, and then observed both the scuffed and undisturbed soil. In addition, Spirit imaged the moons Phobos and Deimos at night. Spirit also acquired part one of a stereo panorama.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 606 (Sept. 16, 2005): Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing and took images overnight of Phobos and Deimos.

Sol 607: Spirit performed remote sensing and used the microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and Mössbauer spectrometer on the scuff feature of Cliffhanger.

Sol 608: Spirit began a long Mössbauer spectrometer campaign on the exterior of Cliffhanger.

Sol 609: Spirit continued the Mössbauer spectrometer campaign.

Sol 610: Spirit once again continued the Mössbauer spectrometer campaign. The rover also proceeded with a panorama of Tennessee Valley.

Sol 611: Spirit used the Mössbauer spectrometer in the interior of Cliffhanger. Spirit then used the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the exterior of Cliffhanger. Spirit also took overnight images of the moons.

Sols 612 and 613: Spirit is on a two-sol plan, consisting of microscopic imager work and a 2.5-hour drive toward "Hillary" to obtain a better look over Tennessee Valley. This new drive position will set up Spirit for the second position to create the stereo panorama. Plans for sol 613 call for Spirit to perform untargeted remote sensing.

As of the end of sol 613, (Sept. 23, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,949 meters (3.08 miles).


sol 599-605, Sept 16, 2005: Testing Command Communications

Spirit has continued observations on the top of "Husband Hill," using the microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mössbauer spectrometer on a target informally called "Irvine." Spirit has also completed three complicated drive sols. It is in position for doing work with the tools on the robotic arm in upcoming sols. During two nights, Spirit observed the moons Phobos and Deimos.

Also this week, Spirit performed two tests to validate the ability to send commands to Spirit via the Mars Odyssey orbiter through the rover's UHF (ultra-high frequency) radio. Downlink through the Odyssey UHF relay has been the principal means for getting data from Spirit. The new tests are for communicating the other direction: sending commands to Spirit via Odyssey UHF relay. The first test was similar to a 1-sol plan; the second contained multiple sequences that simulated a more complicated 3-sol planning day. The team sent old sequences and confirmed that the commands made it onboard the rover, and then the team deleted the files. The first test was successful, and the team is anticipating data to come down from the second test.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 599 (Sept. 9, 2005): Spirit approached the target Irvine on the feature "Putative Dike." The drive was complex because the rover planners needed to make sure Spirit stayed out of the mast occlusion (or stop) zone.

Sol 600: Spirit deployed the robotic arm, took pictures with the microscopic imager, then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on a target. Spirit switched to the Mössbauer spectrometer at 10:30 in the morning, Mars local solar time, for continued observations.

Sol 601: Spirit performed a 24-hour Mössbauer spectrometer integration and made overnight observations of Phobos and Deimos.

Sol 602: Spirit performed another 24-hour Mössbauer spectrometer integration.

Sol 603: Spirit drove 16 meters (53 feet), followed by a 4-meter (13-foot) drive using autonomous navigation. Spirit then performed an Odyssey UHF (ultra-high frequency) relay test.

Sol 604: Spirit performed targeted remote sensing operations.

Sol 605: Spirit successfully completed a complicated drive, including scuffing and turning. This was followed by another UHF (ultra-high frequency) test, and then overnight miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations. Spirit also entered restricted sols. (Restricted sols occur when the timing of the communications pass from the Odyssey orbiter is too late in the Earth day to gather vital location and health information about the rover after it executed recent commands. The team back on Earth must wait until the next day to find out where and how the rover is.)

As of the end of sol 605, (Sept. 15, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,935 meters (3.07 miles).


sol 591-598, Sept 09, 2005: Moonstruck

Spirit is in good health, power positive, and has no issues. This week the telecom team changed Spirit's uplink rate from 1000 bits per second to 2000 bits per second. In its orbit around the Sun, Mars comes close to Earth for a few months once every two years. Mars is now close enough to Earth that the one-way communication travel time from the spacecraft at Mars to the Deep Space Network antennas on Earth is only about 5 minutes away (at light speed). This shorter communication travel time means that the rover team has plenty of communication-link margin to support the higher uplink rate. The new uplink rate was successful during the sol 598 uplink session.

Between Sept. 2 and Sept. 8, Spirit drove to another imaging location and completed the second stereo imaging campaign. Spirit returned to "Irvine" in order to explore what might be a dike, which is a crack-like cut that often forms when magma from a volcano travels through or over another rock. Spirit also performed more observations of the moons Phobos and Deimos, and completed three days of Mössbauer spectrometer readings on the capture magnets.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 592 (Sept. 2, 2005): Spirit drove to the second hilltop location for stereo imaging.

Sol 593: Spirit performed remote sensing observations.

Sol 594 and 595: On both sols, Spirit performed a Mössbauer spectrometer reading on a capture magnet, observed Phobos and Deimos, and did stereo imaging.

Sol 596: Spirit performed a Mössbauer spectrometer reading on a capture magnet and took images with 13 filters on the panoramic camera.

Sol 597: Spirit finished the panoramic camera imaging. Spirit used the microscopic imager to take pictures of the capture and filter magnets, and used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the capture magnet.

Sol 598: Spirit drove back to Irvine.

As of the end of sol 598, (Sept. 8, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,895 meters (3.04 miles).


sol 584-591, Sept 02, 2005: Studying the Summit

Perched on the crest "Husband Hill," Spirit took images for a summit panorama and used instruments on the robotic arm to investigate soil targets.

Science team has compiled a list of experiments they would like Spirit to execute while the rover is on the summit. This list includes:

  • Assess the inner basin and image potential drive paths
  • Assess the surrounding terrain and image "Cumberland Ridge"
  • Routinely observe the atmosphere during the day and the moons at night
  • Study undisturbed soils, scuffed soils, and drift deposits
  • Study the structural geology of Husband Hill, including dips
  • Observe outcrops and rocks
  • Take images for a rover self-portrait
  • Complete a panorama on top of the "Columbia Hills"
  • Finalize exit strategy

Spirit has already completed some of the above observations. It has taken frames for the self-portrait, looked at soil targets, and imaged the two moons of Mars -- Phobos and Deimos -- twice. After completing the initial summit imaging, Spirit drove southeast to another point in the crest area to assess more of the Cumberland Ridge and surrounding terrain.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 585 (Aug. 25, 2005): Spirit performed remote sensing operations, did a Mössbauer spectrometer integration, and imaged Phobos and Deimos.

Sol 586: Spirit performed remote sensing operations, did a Mössbauer spectrometer integration, and imaged the rover deck.

Sol 587: Spirit changed tools from the Mössbauer spectrometer to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 588: Spirit continued with robotic arm operations using the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 589: Spirit retracted the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and stowed the robotic arm. The rover backed away to image the area where the robotic arm had been working, then drove to the southeast. Drive distance for the sol was 21 meters (69 feet).

Sol 590: Spirit continued the drive in the east-southeast direction for another 14.2 meters (47 feet).

Sol 591: Spirit turned to point the UHF antenna for better communications with the Odyssey orbiter. Spirit performed remote sensing at "South Point 1."

As of the end of sol 591, (Sept. 1, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,862 meters (3.02 miles).


sol 579-584, Aug 30, 2005: On Top of the Hill

After 581 sols and 4,810 meters (2.99 miles), Spirit reached the crest of "Husband Hill."

The top of the hill is moderately flat and fairly easy to navigate. Even though sol 581 (Aug. 21, 2005) marked a major accomplishment for Spirit, the "little rover that could" had no time to rest. On sol 582, the team commanded the rover to drive to a better location for taking images in all directions. This spot was about 20 meters (66 feet) along the crest, and it was from this location that Spirit started acquiring frames with the panoramic camera for a 360-degree, full-color, panorama.

The panoramic imaging will take about 12 hours to complete. In Mars time this means about four sols. On sols 583, 584 and 585, Spirit will image the martian landscape, and the team will wait until sol 586 to image the rover equipment deck.

Since Spirit will be in the same location for a while, Spirit placed its robotic arm onto an undisturbed soil target and started a long Mössbauer spectrometer integration on sol 584.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Spirit was in restricted sols during sols 570 to 581. (Restricted sols occur when the timing of the communications pass from the Odyssey orbiter is too late in the day to gather vital location and health information about the rover after it executed recent commands. The team back on Earth must wait until the next sol to find out where and how the rover is.)

Sol 579 (Aug. 19, 2005): Spirit performed remote sensing operations.

Sol 580: Spirit performed more remote sensing operations.

Sol 581: Spirit drove toward the summit.

Sol 582: Spirit drove to a better location to take the panoramic camera images.

Sol 583: Spirit turned to get the antenna well-placed for communications with the Odyssey orbiter. The rover took images with the panoramic camera.

Sol 584: Spirit continued taking images with the panoramic camera for a complete 360-degree panoramic image. The rover placed the Mössbauer spectrometer on a target.

As of the end of sol 584, (Aug. 24, 2005), Spirit had driven 4,827 meters (3.00 miles).


sol 572-578, Aug 19, 2005: Onward and Upward

Spirit has made 54 meters (177 feet) of forward progress towards the summit of "Husband Hill" this past week. This is excellent progress considering Spirit is on restricted sols, so it can only drive every other sol. (Restricted sols occur when the timing of the communications pass from the Odyssey orbiter is too late in the sol to gather vital location and health information about the rover after it executed recent commands. The team back on Earth must wait until the next sol to find out where and how the rover is.) After sol 576's drive, the team was able to determine highest summit point, which is informally named "Summit 1." Previously, the team believed "Summit 2" was slightly higher. Furthermore, traversing to Summit 2 was deemed difficult, so Spirit is headed towards Summit 1, which is roughly 70 meters (230 feet) away.

Power has been extremely healthy at about 875 to 900 watt-hours per sol. Spirit has been consistently using both morning and evening UHF communications passes with the Odyssey orbiter every sol, which allows the team to acquire and downlink more data.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 572 (Aug. 12, 2005): Spirit performed targeted remote sensing, including panoramic camera observations with 13 filters and miniature thermal emission spectrometer stares.

Sol 573: The rover completed a 33.5-meter (109.9-foot) drive, driving backwards towards the summit. Spirit also acquired a panoramic camera mosaic.

Sol 574: Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing, including panoramic camera and navigation camera dust devil observations, pre-sunset panoramic camera imaging, and miniature thermal emission spectrometer readings.

Sol 575: Spirit did more untargeted remote sensing, including panoramic camera and navigation camera dust devil observations, panoramic camera images of the filter magnets, and miniature thermal emission spectrometer readings.

Sol 576: Spirit completed a 18.5-meter (60.7-foot) drive backwards and uphill towards the summit. After the drive, the rover made observations with its navigation camera and its miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 577: The rover looked for dust devils with its navigation camera and made other observations with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 578 (Aug. 18, 2005): The team prepared a plan for a drive of 20 meters (66 feet) toward Summit 1.

As of the end of its 578th sol on Mars, Spirit has driven 4,742 meters (2.95 miles).


sol 565-571, Aug 16, 2005: Spirit Continues to Climb

Spirit has completed investigations with its robotic arm on "Assemblée" rock. The investigation included pictures taken with the microscopic imager, 92 hours of Mössbauer spectrometer integration, and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer work on the target "Gruyere." Other observations included dust devil movies and a panoramic camera image of the rock abrasion tool bit (which has worn down from extensive use because Spirit has exceeded its intended lifespan by more than 480 sols).

As of sol 571 (Aug. 11, 2005), Spirit is still approximately 100 meters (328 feet) from the summit, and the rover will continue driving towards it.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 565 (Aug. 5, 2005): Spirit took a picture of the bit on the rock abrasion tool and drove 2.35 meters (7.71 feet) to Assemblée.

Sol 566: Spirit did remote sensing and used the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to investigate Gruyere on Assemblée.

Sol 567: Spirit used the Mössbauer spectrometer on Assemblée for 23 hours and 5 minutes. Spirit also performed targeted remote sensing, including miniature thermal emission spectrometer stares on four targets and imaging with the panoramic camera.

Sol 568: Spirit took another Mössbauer spectrometer reading on Assemblée for 23 hours and 5 minutes. It also completed panoramic camera imaging with 13 filters on four targets, and it took a dust devil movie.

Sol 569 and 570: Spirit took more Mössbauer spectrometer readings on Assemblée and performed remote sensing.

Sol 571 (Aug. 11, 2005): Spirit used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and microscopic imager on two targets on Assemblée.

As of the end of its 571st sol on Mars, Spirit has driven 4,691 meters (2.91 miles).


sol 559-565, Aug 09, 2005: Spirit 100 Meters from the Top

Spirit has been busy performing investigations with the tools on its robotic arm. It studied two targets on the rock dubbed "Bourgeoisie," and did a small bump to "Hausmann" to take some microscopic images. The plan was to drive away the next day, but the uplink did not happen correctly. The drive was replanned for Aug. 5 (sol 565). As of sol 564, Spirit is approximately 100 meters (328 feet) from the summit, and the rover will continue driving towards it.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 559 (July 29, 2005): Spirit continued Mössbauer spectrometer investigations on "Chic" (a target on the rock Bourgeoisie).

Sol 560: Spirit took pictures with the microscopic imager, brushed with the rock abrasion tool, and performed an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading on "Gentil Matrice" (another target on Bourgeoisie).

Sol 561: Spirit used the Mössbauer spectrometer on Gentil Matrice and did targeted remote sensing.

Sol 562: Spirit finished its Mössbauer spectrometer investigations on Gentil Matrice, and drove to Hausmann (the rock next door).

Sol 563: Spirit took pictures of Hausmann with the microscopic imager. A drive to "Assemblee" (the next target) was desired, but there was not enough time. A nap was required to keep rover internal temperatures below the allowable limit, so the drive was eliminated from the plan.

Sol 564: The plan was for Spirit to drive a small "bump" to Assemblee. This plan did not make it to the rover. Before the communications uplink window started, the sweep into the low-gain antenna failed, and the Deep Space Network antenna did not lock up on the high-gain antenna until after all sequences were sent. The default science plan already onboard ran studies of the atmosphere with the panoramic camera.

Sol 565 (Aug. 5, 2005): This sol's plan was a repeat of the plan for sol 564, and all commands were sent to Spirit twice. As of the beginning of its 565th sol on Mars, Spirit had driven 4,689 meters (2.91 miles).


sol 551-558, Aug 02, 2005: Spirit Investigating 'Chic'

Spirit has reached a target-rich area of the Columbia Hills. In the week of July 21 to 28, 2005, Spirit performed extensive investigations on two rocks, "Descartes" and "Bourgeoisie." Spirit has also acquired coordinated panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations of several nearby rock targets.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 551 (July 21): Spirit made a short approach to a rock informally named "Descartes."

Sol 552: Spirit used the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on "Discourse"‚ which is a target on Descartes. It also performed general remote sensing.

Sol 553: Spirit brushed the target with the rock abrasion tool, then examined the brushed area with the microscopic imager and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. It also made other remote-sensing observations.

Sol 554-555: Spirit performed a long integration with the Mössbauer spectrometer and made remote-sensing observations.

Sol 556: The rover finished using its microscopic imager on Descartes and rolled to the next target, Bourgeoisie.

Sol 557: Spirit took images with its microscopic imager and took readings with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on Bourgeoisie. It then used the microscopic imager to shoot frames for mosaics of three areas -- "Gallant," "Gentil" and "Chic" -- and placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on Chic.

Sol 558 (July 28): Researchers sought to have Spirit brush Chic with the rock abrasion tool, but due to the geometry of the target, Chic was deemed un-brushable. Instead, Spirit proceeded with a two-day Mössbauer spectrometer integration on Chic and more remote sensing.

Total odometry as of July 28, 2005 (sol 558) is 4,688 meters (2.91 miles).


sol 546-551, July 25, 2005: Spirit in Target-Rich Environment

Spirit had an excellent week, driving every planning cycle. The rover drove more than 70 meters (230 feet) closer to the summit of Husband Hill.

The science team has identified an outcrop suitable for inspecting with instruments on the robotic arm. On Sol 550 (July 20, 2005), Spirit approached that target. The following sol the rover "bumped" forward to get into good position for extending the arm to the target.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 546 and 547 (July 16 and 17, 2005): Spirit drove about 12.5 meters (41 feet) on sol 547.

Sol 548: Spirit drove about 20 meters (66 feet).

Sols 549: Spirit drove about 30 meters (98 feet).

Sols 550: Spirit drove about 10 meters (33 feet).

Sols 551 (July 21, 2005): Spirit drove about 1 meter (three feet) to get into position for using the robotic arm's tools on an outcrop target. As of sol 551, Spirit has an odometer total of 4,685 meters (2.91 miles).


sol 538-545, July 14, 2005: Spirit Investigating 'Independence'

Spirit is healthy. On sol 538 (July 8, 2005), Spirit attempted its rock abrasion tool to brush the rock called "Independence." The tool's contact switches did not engage the rock face, and the brushing did not occur. A safety check precluded further use of the robotic arm. The prescribed operation should have been:

  • brush with rock abrasion tool;
  • place the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer;
  • observe with the microscopic imager;
  • place the Mössbauer spectrometer.

From this particular down position for the rock abrasion tool (and the fact that use of the arm was precluded), the rover would not have been able to switch to the Mössbauer spectrometer. The entire weekend's worth data collection by the Mössbauer spectrometer would have been lost. However, the arm preclusion was discovered Friday evening and the team had enough time to modify the robotic arm sequence and recover the weekend's Mössbauer integration time. The sequence of events became:

  • enable robotic arm activity
  • move the joint angles to avoid an arm position that would prompt collision-avoidance software to halt to arm movements;
  • observe with the microscopic imager;
  • place the Mössbauer spectrometer.

The recovery plan ran well. The Mössbauer spectrometer was placed and it collected data all weekend.

On later sols the tool turret on the arm was rotated to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. That instrument examined the same target for about 17 hours, recovering the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration time lost on July 8 (sol 538). Spirit also found time during the weekend to fill in the remaining panoramic camera images for an "Independence" color panorama.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 538 and 539 (July 8 and 9): The rover team recovered a long reading with Spirit's Mössbauer spectrometer after a planned brushing with the rock abrasion tool did not occur. The rover also took images of the target rock, "Independence" with the microscopic imager and continued taking component images for a large color panorama of the "Independence" scene.

Sols 540 and 541 (July 10 and 11): Spirit continued collecting data with the Mössbauer spectrometer and taking images for the "Independence" panorama.

Sols 542 and 543 (July 12 and 13): Spirit continued the Mössbauer spectrometer integration, then changed the tool to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer late in the afternoon and collected data with that instrument overnight. In the morning of sol 543, Spirit changed back to the Mössbauer spectrometer for its final few hours of integration. Spirit stowed the robotic arm and bumped back about 80 centimeters (2.6 feet) to a good position for observing "Independence" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, now back in use.

Sols 544 and 545 (July 14 and 15): The plans for these sols are for a 25-meter (82-foot) drive followed by a sol of remote-sensing observations from the new location.


sol 532-537, July 11, 2005: Spirit Scuffs

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Spirit completed a robotic-arm campaign which had some surprising results. It turned out that targets at "Independence Rock" seem to have less iron than expected. This result prompted the science team to take a closer look. On sol 536 (July 6), because the grinding teeth on the rock abrasion tool are worn, the rover team decided to remove some of the surface area by scuffing it with the front left wheel.

The scuff worked as follows:

  1. Spirit moved into position with a turn in place.
  2. Rotated only the front left wheel -- reverse 1 radian.
  3. Rotated only the front left wheel -- forward 2 radians.
  4. Rover used onboard visual odometry.
  5. Repeated steps 2 through 4, two more times.
  6. Turned in place back to the starting position in order to present the "scuff" to the robotic-arm workspace.

Since the rover gets better alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mössbauer spectrometer spectral readings when we let them run long (more than 10 hours for the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and more than 20 hours for the Mössbauer spectrometer). The rest of the weekend (sols 538 to 541) will be dedicated to work using the instruments on the robotic arm.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 532 to 535 (July 2 to July 5, 2005): Over this period, Spirit took data with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the Mössbauer spectrometer and made observations with the microscopic imager and remote-sensing instruments. The results motivated a decision to do more work with the robotic arm.

Sol 536: The scuff today worked nicely, except that it did not seem to remove a whole lot of material from the place Spirit scuffed. Overall, the rover only scuffed 9 radians on the rock surface, which is less than 1.5 wheel revolutions. Engineers received no errors during the drive, and it looked like all drive-related telemetry was within acceptable parameters.

After the scuff and before Spirit moved back to its original position, the rover took a picture with the hazard avoidance camera in order to see the effect the scuff had on the wheel treads.

The rover team favored the forward wheel rotation because this creates a torque that needs to work against gravity in order to rotate the rover body.

Sol 537 (July 7, 2005): Spirit started an "Independence" 360-degree color panorama. This mosaic will be run all weekend.


sol 524-531, July 1, 2005: Spirit Observes 'Independence'

Spirit has had an extremely successful week. On June 24, 2005 (sol 524), the rover drove 26 meters (85 feet). The following two sols, Spirit performed remote sensing. On June 27 (sol 527), Spirit completed another tricky drive and progressed 22.5 meters (74 feet). At this new site, scientists found an intriguing rock target they informally named "Independence Rock." Spirit will observe this layered rock with instruments on the robotic arm over the long Fourth of July weekend. The rover team commanded a small move positioning Spirit in front of this target, and the rover has begun the science observations. The first attempt to brush Independence Rock with the rock abrasion tool was unsuccessful because contact switches didn't connect. However, the rover team picked a new target in the same general area for Spirit to brush with the rock abrasion tool and analyze with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mössbauer spectrometer over the weekend.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 524 (June 24, 2005): Spirit completed an extremely successful drive, advancing 26 meters (85 feet).

Sol 525: On this remote sensing sol, Spirit made observations with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 526: Spirit checked for dust devils with the navigation camera, took readings with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and observed the sunset with the panoramic camera.

Sol 527: Spirit drove 22.5 meters (74 feet), evidence of successful work by rover planners.

Sol 528: Spirit executed a small drive of 2.8 meters (9 feet) to position itself to have an interesting rock target, dubbed "Franklin," within the work volume of the robotic arm.

Sol 529: The team planned a sol of using the microscopic imager, rock abrasion tool brush, and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer in preparation for the long weekend plan. However, the rock abrasion tool's contact switches didn't trip, and software responded properly by precluded the robotic arm from doing the subsequent work with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 530: This plan was difficult and long because it was part of a three-sol plan in preparation for the weekend. Engineers had to re-enable the robotic arm quickly. Spirit performed a 22.5-hour Mössbauer spectrometer integration on Franklin.

Sol 531 (July 1, 2005): This will be the second sol of a three-sol plan, with another long Mössbauer spectrometer integration (23 hours) on Franklin.

Total odometry as of the end of sol 528 (June 28, 2005) is 4,583.38 meters (2.85 miles).


sol 518-524, June 24, 2005: On the Move

Spirit started this week by completing two remote sensing sols on June 18 and 19 (sols 518 and 519). The rover made observations with its panoramic camera, navigation camera, and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Spirit completed a complex drive plan on June 20 (sol 520), and drove 38 meters (125 feet)!

Spirit continued to drive on June 21 (sol 521) using visual odometry, and drove 9 meters (30 feet).

On June 22 (sol 522), Spirit performed remote sensing including panoramic camera observations with 13 different filters, navigation camera observations of dust devils, panoramic and navigation camera images of the rear tracks, and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations after the afternoon communication session with the Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Spirit drove again on June 23 (sol 523) for 12 meters (39 feet).

More driving is planned for June 24, 2005.

Total odometry as of the end of sol 523 (June 23, 2005) is 4,530.51 meters (2.82 miles).


sol 511-517, June 17, 2005: Scenic Stop

This week Spirit finished examining an area on the rock "Backstay" that was brushed away with the rock abrasion tool. Using the microscopic imager and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, the rover also looked closely at an undisturbed area on the rock. Spirit then drove away, pulled over to a scenic overlook to take some high-resolution imaging of "Methuselah," and drove onward. Spirit's next goal is to drive to the top of the next ridge.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 511 (June 11, 2005): Robotic arm work on Backstay: Post-Brush microscopic images, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on brushed spot. Targeted remote sensing.

Sol 512: Robotic arm work on Backstay, microscopic images and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on un-brushed spot, targeted remote sensing.

Sol 513: Drive towards "Methuselah scenic overlook" (15 meters or 48 feet).

Sol 514: Bump, high-resolution panoramic camera images of Methuselah area, drive on (20 meters or 66 feet).

Sol 515: Driving (18 meters or 59 feet).

Sol 516: More driving (12 meters or 39 feet).

Sol 517: Even more driving planned.

Total Distance as of sol 516 (June 16, 2005): 4,470.26 meters (2.78 miles).


sol 504-510, June 13, 2005: Browsing at 'Backstay'

After last week's robotic arm work at "Larry's Outcrop," Spirit headed over to a rock called "Backstay." The rover paused over the weekend to take a closer look at its solar panels and magnets. Spirit arrived at Backstay on Tuesday (June 7, 2005), and has performed a small microscopic image mosaic, rock abrasion tool brush, and Mössbauer spectrometer integration on the rock. Over the weekend (of June 11-12, 2005), the rover will finish robotic arm work and drive on toward the next target.

Sol Details:

Sol 504:
remote sensing/atmospheric science.

Sol 505:
robotic arm work: microscopic image of solar panel and magnets, and Mössbauer spectrometer on capture magnet, targeted remote sensing.

Sol 506:
continue Mössbauer on magnets, targeted remote sensing.

Sol 507:
drive about 4 meters (about 13 feet) to Backstay.

Sol 508:
Bump forward to Backstay.

Sol 509:
robotic arm work on Backstay: microscopic image pre- and post-brush, Mössbauer integration.

Sol 510:
continue Mössbauer, "Tennessee Valley Panorama," targeted miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Total Odometry: 4404.37 meters (2.73 miles).


sol 497-503, June 03, 2005: Spirit Hits the 500-Sol Mark!

Spirit has been working on Mars for more than 500 sols! This week the rover completed its close-up observations of "Larry's Outcrop" and drove back toward "Methuselah," looking for a passable way up to the summit. The rover will continue to drive around the perimeter of "Husband Hill" until it finds a good pathway.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 497 and 498 (May 27 and 28, 2005):
Spirit used tools on its robotic arm at west Larry's Outcrop and made remote-sensing observations.

Sols 499 to 501:
Spirit continued using the tools on the arm to examine the outcrop and soils. It also made more observations with tools on the camera mast.

Sol 502:
Soil observation; remote sensing.

Sol 503 (June 2, 2005):
Finished soil work, took microscopic images of outcrop, drove toward Methuselah.


sol 490-498, May 27, 2005: Spirit is Power Positive

Spirit is healthy and power positive. Spirit is doing some remarkable science at "Larry's Outcrop," moving along the edge of this spot that looks stereotypically Mars-like. As Spirit drives from place to place, the rover reaches out with its robotic arm and samples rocks.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 490 to 493 (May 19 to 22, 2005):
Over the weekend, Spirit traveled to a location informally called "Paros." On Earth, Paros is one of the Cyclades Islands and lies 96 miles southeast from Athens, Greece. While stopped at Paros on Mars, Spirit used the microscopic imager, the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the Möoessbauer spectrometer to examine surface details.

Sols 494 to 496:
Spirit finished up observing Paros with the microscopic imager, stowed the robotic arm, and moved to a new spot. While making a final approach, Spirit typically takes images with the hazard-identification cameras. Spirit uses these images to determine whether or not it is safe to deploy the robotic arm. Fortunately, this time, not only did Spirit discover that it was safe to deploy the robotic arm, but the camera also captured a lone dust devil far off in the image.

Sol 495-498 (May 24 - May 27, 2005):
With Spirit now secure in a new location, the team's plan is for the rover to take pictures with the microscopic imager, brush rocks with the rock abrasion tool, use the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and place the Möoessbauer spectrometer on a target to read it for about 46 hours.


sol 483-489, May 20, 2005: Spirit Drives to 'Larry's Outcrop'

Spirit finished work at the target "Reef." Over the weekend (May 14 and 15), Spirit performed work using the instruments on the robotic arm on a target informally called, "Davis" on "Jibsheet." Work included use of the microscopic imager, the rock abrasion tool brush, a long alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration, and a long Mössbauer spectrometer integration. Spirit spent 2 sols (May 17 and 18) driving to "Larry's Outcrop." Upon arrival, Spirit took detailed navigation camera and panoramic camera observations in support of possible robotic arm work on Larry's Outcrop. Spirit remains in excellent health.

Total odometry as of May 19, 2005, is 4,368.07 meters (2.71 miles).


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

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 Mössbauer 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 Mössbauer spectrometer.

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


sol 471-476, May 11, 2005: Spirit Checking Out Pittsburgh

After finishing robotic-arm work at a rock called "Keystone" in the "Methuselah" outcrop, Spirit backed off to image the rock with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit then scooted forward and to the left to another Methuselah target, informally called "Pittsburgh" (taking the name from Pennsylvania, the "Keystone State"). The rover executed the drive perfectly, however the left front wheel was not quite in contact with the ground, and was presumably perched on a pebble. Since there was a possibility of slipping off of this pebble during work with the robotic arm, the engineering team reworked the sol's plan to bump backwards 5 centimeters (2 inches, the shortest planned drive on Mars) and wiggle the wheels. Work using the instruments on the robotic arm commenced the next sol, when the rover was stable once again. For sol 476 (May 6, 2005), the team planned a bump back to image Pittsburgh with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and a drive towards "Jibsheet." Since Jibsheet is at least a 2-sol drive away, the team planned the drive to a standoff distance to collect panoramic camera images and do robotic arm work on a soil target.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 471 (May 1, 2005):
Spirit took pictures of Keystone with its microscopic imager and its panoramic camera after the rock was scrubbed with the brush on the rock abrasion tool. Spirit also took a reading of Keystone with the Mössbauer spectrometer.

Sol 472:
Spirit took more Mössbauer spectrometer readings on Keystone.

Sol 473:
Spirit stowed the robotic arm, drove a short distance backwards and finished imaging Keystone. Then, Spirit drove to the target dubbed Pittsburgh.

Sol 474:
Spirit bumped back 5 centimeters (2 inches) to a stable configuration, and then made coordinated observations with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 475:
Spirit took pictures of Pittsburgh with the microscopic imager both before and after the target area was brushed with the rock abrasion tool. Spirit then took a reading on Pittsburgh with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 476 (May 6, 2005):
Spirit stowed the robotic arm, bumped backwards and finished imaging Pittsburgh, then drove toward Jibsheet.

Total odometry as of the end of sol 476 (May 6, 2005) is 4,339 meters (2.70 miles).


sol 462-470, May 03, 2005: Spirit Analyzing 'Keystone'

Spirit is in excellent health. The rover has spent this week (April 22 to April 30, 2005) studying an outcrop called "Methuselah," focusing on the "Keystone" rock. Before Spirit drives away next week, it will have analyzed this feature with every tool in the science payload.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 462 (April 22, 2005):
Spirit drove 3.8 meters (12.7 feet) to reach a place to stop for the weekend and perform remote sensing.

Sol 463:
Spirit performed light remote sensing to save space in the flash memory for the weekend.

Sols 464-466:
Spirit took extensive imaging of Methuselah. It used its panoramic camera to shoot frames that will be joined together into a mosaic view. Spirit also took images with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer and made atmosphere observations.

Sol 467:
Spirit did a 4.75-meter (16-foot) drive to Keystone, a rock that is part of the Methuselah outcrop. The rover also used its miniature thermal emission spectrometer to examine a target informally called "Abigail."

Sol 468:
Spirit used the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to takes images of Abigail and another target called "Priscilla."

Sol 469:
Spirit took pictures of Keystone with the microscopic imager and performed an overnight alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on Keystone.

Sol 470:
Spirit finished acquiring mosaic pictures of Keystone with the microscopic imager, dusted the target with the rock abrasion tool brush, and performed another overnight alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration.

As of sol 470 (ending on April 30, 2005), Spirit's odometry total is 4,310.68 meters (2.68 miles).


sol 456-462, April 21, 2005: Spirit Drives to 'Methuselah'

Spirit has had a great week. The rover has completed some soil studies, taken lots of images, done a little driving, and captured a dust devil image with its panoramic camera. Late in the week, Spirit drove over to a piece of outcrop called "Methuselah." Spirit is healthy and doing fine!

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 456 (April 15, 2005):
Spirit drove toward a soil target to perform a maneuver that engineers and scientists call a "scuff." To scuff the soil, Spirit rotates and backspins one of its front wheels, creating a very shallow trench.

Sol 457, 458, 459:
The scuffmark that Spirit created gave the science team a chance to do some soil studies. Spirit used its full complement of science instruments over the weekend (April 16 and 17, 2005) to learn about the soil.

Sol 460:
Spirit took some additional images of the scuff with the microscopic imager, and then drove toward a piece of outcrop in the neighborhood, which attracted the eye of science team. The science team thinks the outcrop is pretty old and has given it the informal name Methuselah.

Sol 461:
Using the panoramic camera, Spirit captured an image of a dust devil passing by.

Sol 462 (April 21, 2005):
The plan is for Spirit to drive about 4 meters (13 feet) closer to Methuselah in order to be in position for an extended imaging campaign during the weekend.


sol 449-456, April 18, 2005: Spirit Gets Through a Rough Week

Talk about a rough week! Spirit experienced a few software glitches, command sequencing errors, and particularly tough terrain from April 8 through April 15, 2005. After problems were solved, the rover picked up and continued exploring the "Columbia Hills."

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 449 (April 8, 2005):
Spirit has been attempting to climb steep and rock-strewn slopes in the Columbia Hills. The rover automatically went into safe mode when the flight software rebooted on sol 449. Spirit then waited to get commands from engineers back on Earth.

Sol 450:
An overlooked condition caused more headaches for the beloved Spirit. When the software rebooted on Sol 449, Spirit lost knowledge of where its high-gain antenna was pointed. When Spirit tried to use the antenna during sol 450's uplink without knowing where it was pointed, a fault condition resulted. Since Spirit could not figure out where to point the antenna, the rover missed the uplink for the day.

Sol 451:
In order to get out of the fault condition, the rover uplink team came in on the weekend, and put the spacecraft into safe mode, a status in which only systems vital to the rover's health operate. The team commanded Spirit out of the high-gain antenna pointing error and left Spirit in auto mode. Auto mode occurs when the spacecraft is not running instructions from the Earth, but rather is taking care of itself.

Sol 452:
Because Spirit was in auto mode, with no sequence of commands running, Spirit just relaxed and took care of itself on sol 452.

Sol 453:
Before Spirit could drive, the rover needed to take fresh images of the surrounding terrain. Sol 453 was spent taking these images in preparation for driving on sol 454.

Sol 454:
Spirit made another attempt to drive uphill. The drive did not go very well. Spirit slipped quite a bit. Engineers and scientists decided to try a different tactic for Spirit to climb this hill.

Sol 455:
Rover team scientists and engineers decided that they had tried long enough to coax Spirit up this hill at this location and that it was time to try another approach. Instead of going up, Spirit would go down and cross the slope a bit. They will send Spirit cross slope until an easier path to the summit is identified.

Sol 456 (April 15, 2005):
This sol's plan consists of a small drive forward to a soil target where Spirit will use its front wheels to churn up a bit of Mars. The plan is to then examine this soil with instruments on the robotic arm.


sol 442-448, April 08, 2005: Spirit Switchbacking Uphill

Spirit continues slipping in sandy terrain but forges ahead using crafty techniques such as switchbacking and creating a zigzag course.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 442 (March 31, 2005):
Spirit drove successfully uphill for 12.6 meters (41.3 feet). At the start of the drive, Spirit averaged a 42.7 percent slip, but this quickly improved. In the last 3 meters (10 feet), Spirit only slipped 14.6 percent. The average slip for the drive was 17.6 percent.

Sol 443:
Spirit performed 4 hours of targeted remote sensing, which included panoramic camera images and miniature thermal emission spectrometer readings.

Sol 444:
The team planned a long drive through tricky terrain with switchbacks to help Spirit ascend. Spirit drove approximately 8.8 meters (29 feet).

Sol 445:
Spirit performed remote sensing in the afternoon, including an image brightness test with the navigation camera. The goal of this test is to establish the latest time when Spirit can take images prior to sunset and still have viable images to use in the rover drivers' planning tools. The image analysis may allow the rover team to use later times for post-drive imaging and thus increase Spirit's drive time every sol. This is part two of the testing.

Sol 446:
Spirit and Opportunity use NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter as their main communications link between Mars and Earth. On April 2, Odyssey entered "safe mode," which is a protective state a spacecraft automatically enters when onboard fault protection software instructs the spacecraft to disregard its onboard sequence of commands and wait for instructions from the ground. As a result, relay communication with the rovers was suspended, and Spirit did not receive any data from sols 444 and 445. With an unknown status of the rover after its drive, the Spirit team restricted rover operations to remote sensing.

Sol 447:
The Odyssey flight team scrambled to recover the orbiter, but it remained in a safe state, not yet available to support relay communications. Spirit received very little information from its "direct-to-earth" communications link, so the rover team planned another basic remote sensing sol, which generated little data.

Sol 448 (April 7, 2005):
Spirit performed additional remote sensing, including panoramic camera and navigation camera imaging. The Odyssey team brought the orbiter back on-line, the Spirit team received all imaging needed for continuing to drive, and team members are planning to drive on sol 449 with a new appreciation for their orbiting partner! The Odyssey team is investigating the cause behind the fault protection software sending the orbiter into safe mode.


sol 436-441, April 04, 2005: Spirit Slipping on New Terrain

Spirit is heading toward the summit of "Husband Hill." The rover has been making slow progress recently due to slippage on new, sandy terrain, but it is persevering to reach the target. The rover team performed image brightness tests with the navigation camera to assess how late in the sol Spirit can use sunlight for imaging.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 436 (March 25, 2005):
Spirit took panoramic camera images of areas dubbed "Cottontail" and "Blanket." The rover also completed a 24-meter (79-foot) drive.

Sol 437:
Spirit took some post-drive images and performed other remote sensing. It took a sky survey, measured the opacity of the atmosphere, and looked for dust devils.

Sol 438:
Spirit did a lot of remote sensing on sol 438, taking three surveys of the sky, measuring the opacity of the atmosphere, searching for dust devils, and looking for clouds.

Sol 439:
Spirit drove 3 meters (10 feet). It also conducted an image brightness test with its navigation camera. The rovers can't take images when it is too late in the sol since they use the natural light from the Sun to illuminate features on Mars. The rover team experimented with taking pictures later and later this sol. Currently, the rover team does not usually take pictures after long drives, but if the images taken later in the sol come back clear and useful, then the team will start commanding the rover to take images later in the sol, after drives.

Sol 440:
Spirit completed a 1.7-meter (5.7-foot) drive.

Sol 441 (March 31, 2005):
The rover completed a 2.28-meter (7.48-foot) drive. On the new terrain that Spirit has reached, the rover slipped 45 percent on an 11-degree slope. In the past, when Spirit was on an 11-degree slope, the rover did not slip as much, but this terrain is much sandier than previous terrain Spirit has driven on. The rover used to have a slip limit at 40 percent, so the rover would automatically shut off if it slipped that much. The rover team increased the allowable slippage to 60 percent to enable the rover to progress and move forward.


sol 430-435, March 24, 2005: Using Extra Energy to Head Uphill

After a very busy weekend, Spirit packed up the robotic arm and headed away from an area dubbed "Paso Robles." Spirit should be able to make good progress towards the "Husband Hill" summit in the upcoming sols, using as much of the abundant solar energy as it can. Extra power comes courtesy of an early-March windstorm that blew off year-old dust from Spirit's electricity-producing solar panels.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

On sol 430 (March 19, 2005), Spirit took readings of a soil target called "Paso Dark" with the Mössbauer spectrometer, made atmospheric-science observations, shot targeted panoramic camera images and collected miniature thermal emission spectrometer readings. Then the rover performed an overnight alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading on an area of soil that had a mix of light and dark colors.

On sol 431, Spirit took pictures of the solar panel, some undisturbed soil, and Paso Dark with the microscopic imager. Spirit also took another short reading of Paso Dark using the Mössbauer spectrometer before stowing the robotic arm. The rover then made a short drive backwards to get in good position for taking images of the area where it had used the instruments on the robotic arm. After taking those images, Spirit resumed its drive toward the summit of Husband Hill, rolling a total of 10 meters (33 feet) for the day. Then it took images from its new location.

On sol 432, Spirit took panoramic camera images of its own deck for a little self portrait and made atmospheric-science observations.

On sol 433, Spirit continued with atmospheric readings, took panoramic camera images of its magnets, and searched for dust devils.

On sol 434, Spirit drove 20 meters (66 feet), did post-drive imaging, and took atmospheric readings.

On sol 435, Spirit did more atmospheric readings and a survey of the ground. As of sol 435 (March 24, 2005), Spirit has driven a total of 4,197.5 meters (2.61 miles).


sol 422-429, March 21, 2005: Busy with the Robotic Arm

After some accumulated dust was blown off of Spirit's solar panels on sol 420 (March 9, 2005), the rover has been producing over 800 watt-hours of energy per sol, about twice as much as before the solar-array cleaning event. All that extra power has allowed Spirit to do a very aggressive scientific campaign at a soil patch dubbed "Paso Robles 2" with the instruments on the robotic arm. The rover team planned to wrap up the robotic arm work and send Spirit driving again on sol 431.

Between sols 416 and 418, the front hazard-avoidance cameras showed signs of dust contamination. Images from sol 420 indicate that the left front hazard-avoidance camera has been mostly cleaned off.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

On sol 421, Spirit drove and took images that caught a dust devil in action!

On sols 422 and 423, Spirit collected atmospheric-science and other remote-sensing observations. Spirit also performed a dust calibration with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

On sol 424, Spirit drove to "Paso Robles2" and scuffed the surface with its wheels.

On sols 425 and 426, Spirit made some remote-sensing observations. On sol 426, Spirit also used the microscopic imager to take pictures of "Big Clod" and "Bitty Clod." Spirit also studied a target informally called "Paso Dark" with the Mössbauer spectrometer and a target called "Paso Light" with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

On sol 427, Spirit used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the Mössbauer spectrometer again on Paso Dark. Spirit also took pictures of Paso Light and Paso Dark with the microscopic imager.

On sol 428, Spirit did targeted remote sensing and placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on "Ben's Clod" and the Mössbauer spectrometer on Paso Light.

On sol 429 (March 18, 2005), Spirit swept the surface of Ben's Clod with the brush of the rock abrasion tool and took before-and-after shots of the area with the microscopic imager. Spirit also completed a short Mössbauer spectrometer reading on Paso Dark and an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading on Ben's Clod.


sol 416-421, March 14, 2005: High Winds Make Spirit Full of Energy

Spirit is in good health and is successfully using a new version of flight software. After completing an investigation of a rock dubbed "Watchtower," Spirit is returning to a soil area of interest informally labeled "Paso Robles." Tau, a measure of how much sunlight cannot penetrate the atmosphere, rose to a high of 1.5 on the afternoon of sol 418, but the opacity of the atmosphere has since dropped off. Energy output from Spirit's solar panels is up as of sol 420, indicating that some cleaning of dust off of the solar arrays may have occurred naturally.

As Spirit and Opportunity are the first solar-powered vehicles on the surface of Mars during the dust storm season, this is a learning experience. There are likely large transient dust storm events that reduce solar energy due to dust deposition on the solar arrays and blocking some sunshine, but also may sometimes raise energy levels by cleaning dust from arrays, possibly by winds associated with dust storms. The impact on other rover systems, such as cameras, will also be closely monitored.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

On sol 416, which ended on March 5, 2005, Spirit awoke around 4 a.m. local solar time at Gusev Crater to start its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and use a communication window with the Mars Odyssey orbiter passing overhead. Later, Spirit did a three-hour grind with its rock abrasion tool, digging about 7 millimeters (0.27 inch) into Watchtower. Spirit then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer into the rock abrasion tool hole for an overnight integration.

On sol 417, Spirit gathered images of the rock abrasion tool hole with the microscopic imager, performed a variety of remote-sensing observations, and then placed the Mössbauer spectrometer in the hole for an overnight integration.

On sol 418, Spirit continued the Mössbauer spectrometer integration and acquired remote-sensing data. A regional dust storm caused tau the reach a new high if 1.5 in the afternoon and reduced solar energy for the day to roughly 350 watt-hours. After the dust storm, Spirit's front hazard-avoidance camera showed signs of dust contamination similar to that seen earlier on Opportunity's rear hazard-avoidance camera.

On sol 419, Spirit completed remote-sensing observations, including imaging to learn more about the contamination on the front hazard-avoidance camera. Slight mottling is visible in images from both eyes of the stereo camera. It is not enough to affect use of the camera or to have any direct impact on rover operations, but understanding how it happened might help the rover team minimize future occurrences. Spirit then moved backwards about 1 meter (3 feet) from Watchtower to use mast-mounted instruments for observing that rock. After that, it starting to drive toward the soil target Paso Robles. However, the planned 14-meter (46-foot) drive ended after just 1 meter (3 feet) due to a software sequence ordering issue.

On sol 420, Spirit drove 7 meters (23 feet) of a planned 14 meters (46 feet) towards Paso Robles. The drive ended prematurely due to a problem in visual odometry, which is part of the software that enables the rover to drive autonomously. Energy output from the solar array rose dramatically, to more than 600 watt-hours. In part, this is due to a favorable northerly tilt of the rover, which points the solar arrays toward the Sun. Also, tau is going back down, but it is possible that some cleaning event occurred that reduced the dust on the solar panels.

On sol 421, Spirit drove 7 meters (23 feet) and arrived close to the Paso Robles target. Spirit still needs another few meters to get into position to use the instruments on its robotic arm. Solar energy continues to be very high: more than 700 watt-hours. The last time Spirit had this much energy was around sol 80!


sol 408-415, March 07, 2005: Spirit Perched at 'Larry's Lookout'

Spirit's focus on sols 408 through 412 was the spectacular panorama from "Larry's Lookout." After completing that 4-sol effort, Spirit rolled to a nearby rock target called "Watchtower" and began examining it with tools on the robotic arm.

Spirit is in excellent health. Skies are clearing of dust and Spirit's solar panels are angled at a high northerly-tilt. So, as Mars approaches the spring season, Spirit has had ample power and a full battery at the start of each recent sol. Flash memory is also in good shape despite the large panorama acquired, thanks to good downlinks and data management.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

On sol 408, Spirit was unable to uplink due to a communications transmitter failure.

Sol 409 was a repeat plan of sol 408, and Spirit drove 2.7 meters (8.9 feet) to Larry's Lookout.

Sols 410 and 411 were the first of four days of using the panoramic camera to acquire frames for a panorama from Larry's Lookout.

On sols 412 and 413, Spirit continued acquiring the panorama and also made observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

On sol 414, Spirit moved slightly to put Watchtower into the work volume for the robotic arm.

On sol 415, Spirit brushed the dust off of an area on Watchtower with the rock abrasion tool and started an overnight integration with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 415 ended on March 4, 2005.

Spirit's current total odometry is 4,161 meters (2.59 miles).


sol 402-407, February 28, 2005: Spirit Taking in 'Tennessee Valley'

Spirit has spent the last 70 sols climbing up the "Columbia Hills" to reach "Larry's Lookout," a point on "Cumberland Ridge." Having accomplished the trek up to Larry's Lookout, Spirit is getting into position to shoot a panorama of the "Tennessee Valley" located below. Spirit is still in excellent health.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sols 401 and 402 were planned in a single planning cycle. On sol 401, Spirit placed the Mössbauer spectrometer on a target of disturbed soil called "Paso Robles" and collected data for most of sols 401 and 402. Spirit also performed about three hours of remote-sensing observations, including imaging of Phobos, one of the moons of Mars.

Sols 403 through 405 were planned in another single planning cycle, to allow the Earthlings to take President's Day holiday off. Sol 403 was spent continuing the very long Mössbauer spectrometer integration on Paso Robles. Spirit stowed the rover arm, and then moved back about a meter (3 feet) to allow imaging of Paso Robles with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. Spirit then began moving closer to Larry's Lookout, covering 16 meters (52 feet). On sol 405, Spirit spent over two hours performing remote-sensing observations and recharging the batteries.

Spirit moved still closer to Larry's Lookout on sol 406, driving another 14 meters (46 feet) uphill. By the end of the drive, Spirit was within 5 meters (16 meters) of the crest. Spirit also performed another Phobos observation.

On sol 407, Spirit reached Larry's Lookout, driving another 3.5 meters (11 feet). Spirit performed an hour of post-drive imaging and was ready to begin observations of Tennessee Valley.

Total odometry as of sol 407 is 4,157 meters (2.58 miles).

Sol 407 ended on Feb. 24, 2005.


sol 394-402, February 24, 2005: Spirit's Intelligence Increasing

Spirit is getting new software for increased brainpower, but the rover is not using it quite yet.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

On sol 394, Spirit drove to a safe spot for good communications with Earth during upload of new software. The rover team successfully loaded all of the new software modules on sol 395 and booted the spacecraft with the latest software on sol 397. At the end of sol 397, the rover team re-booted back into the old software. Opportunity (Spirit's sister) is running on the new software, and Spirit will start using it after the project team gets a chance to see the software's new capabilities in action.

On sol 398, Spirit continued climbing toward "Larry's Lookout" in the "Columbia Hills" with an 18-meter (59-foot) drive backward up the hill. During part of the drive, the rover slipped, and Spirit churned up some soil under the front right wheel. In the images taken after the drive, the rover team noticed some very bright spots in the soil.

On sol 399, Spirit placed the robotic arm down on the churned up soil and performed a quick reading of the soil's composition with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. Spirit then stowed the robotic arm and continued the drive toward the summit. However, the attempted drive failed due to slippage, and Spirit ended up only churning up more soil. This turned out to be fortuitous because the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading the rover team received on sol 400 from the sol 399 integration showed interesting results. Because the team had only a quick alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading the sol before, the rover team decided to dedicate sol 400 to doing a more extensive integration with the same instrument.

For sols 401 and 402, Spirit's instructions were to complete more observations of the soil at this location. Spirit changed tools to the Mössbauer spectrometer for collecting data with that instrument more than 12 hours each day. The plan actually ended in the early morning hours of sol 403. During the morning of sol 403, Spirit attempted to image Phobos (one of the moons of Mars) as it eclipsed the Sun. Sol 402 ended on Feb. 18, 2005.


sol 388-393, February 15, 2005: Spirit Braving the Dust on Mars

Spirit's solar panels are collecting a fine layer of dust, which has reduced energy levels, but Spirit keeps on keeping on.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Spirit completed an approximately 13-meter (43-foot) drive toward the "Cumberland Ridge" on sol 388. Spirit spent sol 389 performing the usual set of remote-sensing observations.

On sol 390, Spirit drove closer to "Larry's Lookout," about 13 meters (43 feet) backwards uphill. Spirit stopped when the rover reached the mobility time-of-day limit, which is a time of day that engineers program into the software to ensure the rover won't deplete all of its power at the end of a day's drive. Then, Spirit performed a set of remote sensing observations on sol 391.

Sol 392 was planned as a 23-meter (75-foot) drive toward Larry's Lookout, plus some post-drive imaging in the drive direction with the navigation camera and panoramic camera. The usual remote-sensing science was planned for various times throughout the sol. However, Spirit halted after completing the first segment of the drive, a distance of only about 12 meters (39 feet). The halt may have been due to rocks nearby considered too dangerous by the rover's autonomous navigation system. This left Spirit with more driving to do on the next drive opportunity. Spirit also has been taking energy from the batteries recently (due to increased dust in the atmosphere, which has covered the solar panels with a thin layer of dust, blocking some of the light that provides energy via the solar panels).

On sol 393, the rover team planned an easy remote-sensing day in order to try to put back some energy into the batteries.

The plan for sol 394 was to perform a careful drive of about 6.4 meters (21 feet) to park in a spot where the rover team can carry out an upload of new flight software. The spot was chosen for an orientation facilitating the high gain antenna to point to Earth for good communication during upload of the flight software. Sol 394 ended on Feb. 11.

As of sol 393, Spirit's total odometry is 4,108 meters (2.55 miles).


sol 381-388, February 07, 2005: Spirit Encounters 'Alligator'

Spirit has completed examination of a rock target called "Alligator," using every tool on the instrument deployment device (robotic arm). With Spirit's batteries recharged and atmospheric dust stable again, the rover is in excellent health and ready to approach "Cumberland Ridge," a crest on "Husband Hill."

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Having completed close-up observations of the rock named "Peace," Spirit stowed the robotic arm on sol 381, bumped back 1.2 meters (3.9 feet), imaged Peace, and then drove 17 meters (56 feet) toward the crest of Husband Hill. The amount of electric current drawn by the rear wheels rose higher than normal, most likely due to an 18-degree tilt during the drive. Spirit then performed 30 minutes of post-drive imaging.

On sol 382, Spirit made a 4-meter (13-foot) approach to the next target, informally named "Alligator." The drive succeeded as planned, putting Alligator perfectly in the workspace for rover-arm operations.

On sols 383 and 384, Spirit performed a couple hours of remote-sensing observations.

On sols 385 and 386, Spirit completed complicated rover-arm operations. During 80 minutes on sol 385, Spirit scoured some side-by-side patches of Alligator's surface with the wire bristles on the rover's rock abrasion tool, creating a brush mosaic. Spirit took readings with the Mössbauer spectrometer for 90 minutes, switched tools to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for 20 minutes of data-collection with that tool, then switched back to the Mössbauer spectrometer for more observations through 3:00 a.m. Mars local solar time on sol 386. Later on sol 386, Spirit took close-up pictures of the brush mosaic using the microscopic imager. Spirit then stowed the rover arm. The rover moved 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) back away from Alligator, and then performed an hour of post-drive imaging.

Sol 387, which ended on Feb. 3, was a restricted sol because information from the previous sol's operations could not be available in time for the team to plot further driving. So Spirit spent 2.5 hours performing remote-sensing observations using the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Total odometry as of sol 357 is 4,070 meters (2.53 miles).


sol 374-380, February 02, 2005: Spirit Productive with Peace Efforts

Spirit had another productive week in the locale of a target called "Peace." Because of strong interest in the unusual character of "Peace," the team decided to throw the full science instrument payload at the rock.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

On sol 374, Spirit performed a successful 40-minute grind on Peace. The short grind time was due to energy limitations on the rover, which were a result of a dust storm that limited solar energy. The rock abrasion tool performed with no anomalies, and a 3.22- millimeter hole was made, removing some of the upper rock surface. Then, Spirit placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer in the hole drilled by the rock abrasion tool. The usual morning and evening remote-sensing science observations were conducted.

On sol 375, Spirit placed the Mössbauer spectrometer in the abraded hole. Again, the usual remote-sensing science observations were made.

On sol 376, Spirit continued the Mössbauer spectrometer integration, then Spirit changed tools to take pictures of the rock abrasion tool hole with the microscopic imager. Spirit performed more remote-sensing science.

On sol 377, Spirit completed a successful 1-hour-and-56-minute grind on Peace. This was the second attempt at grinding this rock target because the depth of first grind on sol 274 was deemed insufficient by the science team to really get inside the rock. The rock abrasion tool again performed the operation with no anomalies. It ground an additional 9.7 millimeters into the previously abraded surface. This additional depth did not necessarily add directly to the depth achieved on sol 374 due to potential rover arm placement errors, but it was the deepest rock abrasion tool hole created to date!

On sol 378, Spirit started the Mössbauer spectrometer reading at noon and integrated until 3:00 a.m. The usual atmospheric science was conducted.

On sol 379, Spirit restarted the Mössbauer spectrometer to get four hours of observations during the day, and an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading was taken overnight. Atmospheric science, miniature thermal emission spectrometer readings of "Boycott", and an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading were taken overnight.

On sol 380, the Science Operations Working Group (SOWG) decided that Spirit should remain at the location with "Peace." Spirit collected pictures of the deep rock abrasion tool hole with the microscopic imager. The microscopic imager images of the bottom of that hole were received on the ground. A short alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on a new "Peace" target was collected just before the Odyssey orbiter communications pass, and the data were sent down on that pass. A long alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration (greater than eight hours) will come down later. Additional pictures of Peace from the microscopic imager were collected. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer monitored dust. The panoramic camera and hazard avoidance camera took images of the rock abrasion tool's magnets and grinding bit. The atmosphere has become slightly less dusty since the latest reporting. Sol 380 ended on Jan. 27.


sol 367-373, January 24, 2005: Spirit at 'Peace'

Spirit is healthy, but reduced sunlight has been reaching the rover through the atmosphere due to a possible dust storm identified from orbital data. Despite limited energy during the period from sol 367 through sol 373, Spirit made good progress by driving about 20 meters (66 feet) closer to top of "Cumberland Ridge." Spirit is investigating a rock called "Peace."

Sol-by-sol summaries:

During a two-sol plan on sols 367 and 368, Spirit traversed about 14 meters (46 feet) up the steep hillside toward the ridge and a target named "Larry's Lookout." The average slippage during the drive is estimated at 14 percent, indicating much firmer footing than previous drives. Sol 368 was a remote sensing sol. Spirit made observations with its panoramic camera and its miniature thermal emission spectrometer and performed a successful test of the right eye of the panoramic camera to find the Sun. The rover team usually uses the left panoramic camera to locate the Sun.

"Sun finding" is sometimes called "get fine attitude" or "attitude update," and is something engineers do every couple of weeks to correct error in the rover's knowledge of attitude -- mostly which way is north. This takes the same kind of images of the Sun that the atmospheric science team does, but the engineers use the data to determine attitude. Between the updates, the rover uses the onboard computer to keep track of attitude changes, but error builds up in this measurement over time. In general, most of the panoramic camera images of the Sun are acquired for atmospheric science. Many images are used to determine how much dust is in the atmosphere (atmospheric opacity or Tau). Usually engineers take these images three or four times during the day. With the current dust storms, the team is taking even more images of the Sun.

Sols 369, 370, and 371 were part of a three-sol plan. On sols 369 and 370, Spirit looked for more science targets en route to Larry's Lookout. On sol 371, Spirit completed a 6-meter (20-foot) drive to arrive at the rock target "Peace." Due to the slope and small rocks in area, Spirit sat at an overall tilt of 19 degrees to the north-northeast, which was very good for maximizing solar energy.

On sol 372, Spirit deployed the rover arm and acquired a set of images of Peace taken by the microscopic imager. A sequencing error prevented the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer from being placed on the rock, delaying the planned integration. The opacity of the sky, or Tau, which is the amount of light that cannot penetrate through the atmosphere, rose sharply from 0.8 to 1.1.

On sol 373, Spirit acquired more images with the microscopic imager and brushed Peace with the rock abrasion tool. The rover then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on Peace successfully for a nighttime integration. Tau continued upwards to 1.3, further reducing solar energy for Spirit.

Solar energy continues to be a precious resource because of the high Tau on sol 373. Although dust storms are more likely at this time of martian year, the start of the true dust storm season is still months away. Sol 373 ended on Jan. 20, 2005.


sol 360-366, January 14, 2005: Spirit Close to the Crest

Currently Spirit is approximately 50 meters (164 feet) from a target called "Larry's Lookout" on a ridge line in the "Columbia Hills." During the period from sol 360 through sol 366, engineers focused on maximizing the amount of time Spirit could drive every sol with limited power. The driving is slow and difficult; Spirit is encountering many rock obstacles and patches of soft sand that are causing Spirit to either slip or dig in. Just when it looked like Spirit might not be able to reach Larry's Lookout, the rover had three successful drive sols. Spirit is in excellent health as the team looks forward to celebrating the anniversary of Opportunity's landing on Jan. 24.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 360 was a repeat of sol 358's drive. Spirit performed an "S" turn and then drove straight for about 4 additional meters (13 feet). This was a refreshingly good result for the tough terrain where Spirit was located. Spirit experienced as much as 48 percent slippage during the drive, but ended up moving a total distance of 9.7 meters (31.8 feet). Spirit also performed 20 minutes of post-drive imaging.

Sol 361 was a restricted sol due to a late downlink of data needed for more extensive planning. That ruled out any driving or use of the instrument deployment device. Spirit completed almost 2 hours of remote sensing observations using the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 362 and 363 were planned in a single planning cycle. Sol 362 was another remote sensing sol. On sol 363, Spirit attempted a 10-meter (33-foot) drive. Spirit accomplished about 3 meters (10 feet) of the drive before stopping due to high wheel slippage. Spirit experienced slippage of up to 98 percent on portions of this drive. Spirit then performed 20 minutes of imaging.

On Sol 364, the rover planners devised a strategy that would attempt to recover when Spirit experienced slippage of greater than 60 percent. The drive sequence was complex and Spirit's planning team had a tight planning cycle, so engineers came painfully close to missing the uplink window. The payoff for the long day was a very good drive. Spirit accomplished 7 meters (23 feet).

Spirit performed another uphill drive on sol 365. The rover drove 9 meters (29 feet) and performed 20 minutes of post-drive imaging.

The plan on sol 366 was to continue the uphill drive toward Larry's Lookout, employing all the latest rover tricks. The drive was successful as Spirit traversed more than 12 meters (39 feet) with slip averaging less than 15 degrees. Spirit performed 30 minutes of post-drive observations. Sol 366 ended on Jan. 12.

Total odometry after sol 366 is 4,030 meters (2.5 miles).


sol 353-359, January 11, 2005: Spirit Continues Climbing 'Husband Hill'

With one eye on the weather, Spirit continued work on "Husband Hill," making detailed observations of a rock called "Champagne," using the full suite of instruments.

Engineers continue to have difficulty getting the rover to make significant progress toward a ridgeline destination due to high slippage that Spirit experiences on the sandy, sloped terrain. Spirit has been in roughly the same spot for the past 30 sols. Since temporarily getting a potato-sized rock caught in the right rear wheel on sol 339, engineers have been careful to monitor the slip as Spirit drives. If the wheels slip too much, engineers stop the drive to avoid the possibility of picking up another rock as Spirit spins and digs with its wheels.

The opacity of the sky -- or how much light does not shine through the atmosphere -- has been higher than normal in the past week due to local dust disturbances. Higher opacity means less energy for the solar-powered rover. However, despite the recent increase in opacity, Spirit has had adequate energy (with a safe margin) to continue normal operations.

The rover's power bus return is a collection of wires designed to carry current back to the rover power source (battery or solar array). Electrical current between Spirit's chassis and the power bus return changed on sol 342 from zero volts to 0.1 volts. The small change in voltage coincided with powering of heater circuits on the instrument deployment device (or rover arm). This confirms that there is a short (unexpected metal-to-metal contact) between the power bus return and the chassis, as had been suspected since October. The short is somewhere on the return side of the rover arm heater circuits. The presence of this short does not affect daily operations. It does, however, take away one layer of protection should Spirit have a short to the chassis somewhere else on Spirit.

Sol Summaries:

On sol 353, Spirit continued inspecting the rock "Champagne" and performed a Mössbauer spectrometer integration on two Champagne targets.

On sol 354, Spirit used its rock abrasion tool to brush the dust off a target on Champagne, then used the microscopic imager and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to analyze the dust-free spot.

On sol 355, Spirit used the rock abrasion tool to grind into Champagne, then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer in the hole for an overnight observation.

On sol 356, Spirit continued using its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the hole drilled by the rock abrasion tool hole.

On sol 357, Spirit changed tools to the Mössbauer spectrometer and placed it in the rock abrasion tool hole for a long integration.

On sol 358, Spirit took microscopic images of the rock abrasion tool hole, then stowed the rover arm. Engineers then attempted a short drive that would have allowed Spirit to image the rock abrasion tool hole from a distance. The drive did not reach the intended position because of slippage.

Sol 359 was a "restricted" sol, meaning that engineers had to plan this sol without knowing the results of the sol 358 sequence. Consequently, it was a relatively simple day that included routine atmospheric science and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations. Sol 359 ended on Jan. 6.


sol 346-352, January 06, 2005: Spirit Celebrates Year Anniversary on Mars

Spirit landed on Mars one year ago on Jan. 3, 2004, (Pacific Time) and is still healthy and going strong!

On sol 346, Spirit confirmed that it had dumped a potato-shaped rock that had been plaguing Spirit's right rear wheel. Confirmation came by comparison of before and after images from the rear hazard-avoidance camera. The total distance driven on sol 346 was 0.33 meters (1.08 feet).

On sol 347, Spirit observed selected targets with its panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

On sol 348 took pictures of a target called "Dreaming" with the microscopic imager, and then did a tool change to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. Spirit also made some remote-sensing observations of targets with holiday theme names.

On sol 349, Spirit did a tool change to the Mössbauer spectrometer and made more observations.

On sol 350, the plan was to drive Spirit 5 meters (16 feet) towards the rock named "La Brea." However, the drive achieved less than a meter (3 feet) due to slippage.

On sol 351, Spirit attempted to drive again. This drive involved a series of rearward and forward arcs to get to more favorable terrain. Most of the slip occurred during the forward arcs. The estimated slip on the rearward arcs was 15 per cent, but the estimated slip on the forward arcs was 39 per cent. The destination, a rock called "Dick Clark," was still about 4.2 meters away (14 feet).

On sol 352, the incomplete drive on the previous sol had left the rover team with a rock of interest right between the rover's front wheels. Spirit examined a target called "Bubbles" with its microscopic imager, then changed tools to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. Spirit also made sky observations with its thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. Sol 352 ended on Dec. 29.

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