Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Spirit Stages Martian Stand-Up Performance

Date:
January 12, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has successfully completed its stand-up activities by extending the rear wheels. This puts the rover into a fully opened configuration for the first time since pre-launch testing in Florida last spring.

These images of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit were taken by Spirit's rear hazard avoidance camera. (NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has successfully completed its stand-up activities by extending the rear wheels. This puts the rover into a fully opened configuration for the first time since pre-launch testing in Florida last spring.

Meanwhile, the rover is sending home sections of a 360-degree color panorama it has taken and stored onboard, plus other information about the terrain around its landing site, Columbia Memorial Station in Mars' Gusev Crater.

Mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have decided that changing the tilt of the lander platform will not be necessary before the rover drives off, possibly allowing drive-off to occur late Tuesday night or early Wednesday, Pacific Standard Time.

JPL's Chris Voorhees, who led the engineering team that planned the unfolding sequences for Spirit and its sister rover, Opportunity, said "Spirit has spent most of the last seven months scrunched up inside of a tetrahedral-shaped lander, and that is not the shape a rover wants to be. Over the last several days, Spirit has performed a sort of reverse robotic origami."

"The rover now stands at its full height and all six wheels are in position for driving on the surface of Mars," said Jennifer Trosper, mission manager at JPL.

The rover is still attached to the lander. The next step planned for Saturday evening (Pacific Standard Time) is to command the rover to release connections between the middle wheels and the lander. Under best-case conditions, severing the final cable connection is planned for Sunday night, followed by clockwise turns totaling 120 degrees on Monday night into Tuesday, then drive-off toward the northwest on the following martian day.

Pictures from Spirit's panoramic camera continue to provide details about the martian ground and sky. The rover transmitted home about 180 megabits of science data in the past martian day, nearly 10 times the maximum daily capability of Mars Pathfinder in 1997.

JPL geologist Dr. Matt Golombek, co-chair of the steering committee that evaluated potential landing sites for Spirit and Opportunity, said the pictures are confirming some predictions about the Gusev site. Rocks cover less of the ground than at the three previous Mars landing sites -- about three percent of ground area around Spirit compared with about 20 percent of the ground around each of Mars Pathfinder, Viking 1 and Viking 2.

Presenting the latest high-resolution color mosaic from Spirit, Golombek said, "This is without question the smoothest, flattest place we've ever landed on Mars, with the possible exception of Viking 2."

Dr. Mark Lemmon a member of the rover science team from Texas A & M University, College Station, said the atmosphere at Spirit's site is dustier than at previous landing sites, except during dust storms observed by the Viking landers. The dust colors the sky and affects the appearance of objects on the ground.

Higher above the ground, atmospheric densities predicted for Spirit's descent closely matched the true conditions measured from the spacecraft's deceleration, said JPL's Dr. Joy Crisp. That is a good sign for Opportunity's descent two weeks from now, though risks remain high for any landing on Mars.

Spirit arrived at Mars Jan. 3 (EST and PST; Jan. 4 Universal Time) after a seven-month journey. Its task is to spend the next three months exploring for clues in rocks and soil about whether the past environment in Gusev Crater was ever watery and suitable to sustain life.

Spirit's twin Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, will reach its landing site on the opposite side of Mars on Jan. 25 (EST and Universal Time; 9:05 p.m., Jan. 24, PST) to begin a similar examination of a site on the opposite side of the planet from Gusev Crater. As of Sunday morning, Opportunity will have flown 428 million kilometers (266 million miles) since launch and will still have 28 million kilometers (17 million miles) to go before landing.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Images and additional information about the project are available from JPL at http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov and from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., at http://athena.cornell.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Spirit Stages Martian Stand-Up Performance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040111213212.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, January 12). NASA's Spirit Stages Martian Stand-Up Performance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040111213212.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Spirit Stages Martian Stand-Up Performance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040111213212.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins