Rover Update With Video

Article written: 19 Jun , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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Here’s a rover update: Spirit remains stuck in her location on the west side of Home Plate, and work continues at JPL for testing on how to extract the rover from being embedded in soft soil. A rock may be underneath Spirit, keeping her from moving, but more images are being taken by the microscopic camera at the end of the robotic arm to try and determine exactly what is going on under and around the rover. But with a boosted power supply, Spirit has also been busy making scientific observations of her surroundings. And one more thing, which would be extremely fun, rover driver Scott Maxwell hinted on Twitter that Spirit has so much power now from a recent wind event that cleared off her solar panels that she may attempt to make overnight observations. So stay tuned for PANCAM images of the Martian night sky!

Enjoy this video update on the Mars Exploration rovers by another rover driver, Ashley Stroupe.

As of Sol 1932 (June 9, 2009), Spirit’s solar array energy production is at 828 watt-hours. Total odometry remains at 7,729.93 meters (4.80 miles).

Meanwhile over on the other side of the planet, Opportunity continues to drive south on the way to Endeavour crater. On Sol 1906 (June 4, 2009), the rover completed a 69-meter (266-foot) drive due south. Elevated actuator currents with the right-front wheel continue to cause concern. On Sol 1910 (June 8, 2009), the planned drive stopped early because a multi-wheel current limit threshold was exceeded. A diagnostic maneuver on the next sol was successful indicating the cause on the previous sol was due to the elevated right-front wheel motor currents.

The view from Opportunity on sol 1912.  Credit: NASA/JPL

The view from Opportunity on sol 1912. Credit: NASA/JPL




A long, backward drive was performed on Sol 1912 (June 10, 2009). Driving backwards is one technique to mitigate the elevated wheel currents. However, wheel currents continued to be elevated after that 72-meter (236-foot) drive. Further resting of the rover’s actuators is being considered.

The plan ahead includes opening the shroud of the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (Mini-TES) to expose the instrument’s dust-contaminated elevation mirror to the environment. This is an attempt to allow the wind environment to clean dust off the mirror.

As of Sol 1912 (June 10, 2009), Opportunity’s solar array energy production is 431 watt-hours. Opportunity’s total odometry is 16,569.05 meters (10.3 miles).

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4 Responses

  1. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    Thanks, I enjoyed that, and good idea to have regular updates.

    The “Goddard depression” seems like a fitting name, all that power and “all” we get is awakened nights.

    Btw, I do hope NASA has solved the Mars solar panel dust problem by the time the next such driven probe lands. It’s kind of ironic to have rovers with lots of actuators, even arms, but no one to scrape the panels against a known problem. Where’s the nearest squeegee when you need it?

    (IIRC, and wasn’t that a UT article, NASA actually tries out some form of integrated EM some effect or other levitation actuators. Fancy, but weight saving and robust.)

  2. Jake Tringali says

    I asked that question during a 2008 JPL Open House to the rover staff. The engineer said they had originally had a dust remover in designs, but it was removed for time/money considerations.

    Seems to me that the next ones will have a dust remover.

  3. Jon Hanford says

    PANCAM images of the night sky? Wow, time for some meteoric, auroral and highttime upper atmospheric science 🙂 Sign me up (any current predicted Martian meteor showers?).

  4. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    Jake, thanks! If they really had a special design going, and now is trying out something generic, indeed it seems like a done deal.

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