Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gear On Opportunity Rover Passes Martian Health Check

Date:
January 27, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
During the second day on Mars for NASA's Opportunity rover, key science instruments passed health tests and the rover made important steps in communicating directly with Earth.

The interior of a crater surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity at Meridiani Planum on Mars can be seen in this color image from the rover's panoramic camera. This is the darkest landing site ever visited by a spacecraft on Mars.
Credit: Image NASA/JPL/Cornell

During the second day on Mars for NASA's Opportunity rover, key science instruments passed health tests and the rover made important steps in communicating directly with Earth.

Related Articles


Halfway around the planet, during its 22nd day on Mars, NASA's Spirit obeyed commands for transmitting information that is helping engineers set a strategy for fixing problems with the rover's computer memory.

On Earth this morning, scientists marveled at a high-resolution color "postcard" of Opportunity's surroundings. The mosaic of 24 frames from the panoramic camera shows details from the edge of the lander to the distant horizon beyond the rim of the rover's small home crater.

"We're looking out across a pretty spectacular landscape," said Dr. Jim Bell of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., lead scientist for the panoramic cameras on Spirit and Opportunity. "It's going to be a wonderful area for geologists to explore with the rover."

The color view shows dark soil that brightened where it was compacted by the rolling spacecraft, and an outcropping of bedrock on the inside slope of the 20-meter (66-foot) crater in which the rover sits. Opportunity will be commanded to finish taking a 360- degree color panorama of the site during its third Mars day, which began at 12:01 p.m. PST today.

Another major step planned for Opportunity's third day is to begin using its high-gain antenna for communicating directly with Earth at a high data rate, said Jackie Lyra of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., activity lead for this rover event. In preparation for this transition, Opportunity found the Sun with its panoramic camera yesterday. Once oriented by knowing the position of the Sun, it can calculate how to point its high-gain antenna toward Earth.

"We're making steady progress in our effort to get the wheels of the rover dirty," said Mission Manager Jim Erickson of JPL. Still the earliest scenario for the rover to drive off its lander platform is more than a week away.

Opportunity has tested the three scientific sensing instruments on its robotic arm that will be used for up-close examination of rocks and soil: the microscopic imager, the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for determining what elements are present, and a Moessbauer spectrometer for identifying iron-containing minerals. "I'm pleased to report that all are in perfect health," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science instruments on the rovers.

Squyres had been especially concerned about the Moessbauer spectrometer because tests conducted while the spacecraft was on its way to Mars showed that an internal calibration system was not working as intended. However, after the rover landed on Mars, the instrument is functioning normally again. The Moessbauer spectrometer's function for identifying iron-bearing minerals will be important in the scientific goal of determining the origin of iron-bearing hematite deposits in the Meridiani Planum region selected as Opportunity's landing site.

"We have a perfectly functioning Moessbauer spectrometer, and given that we are now perched atop the hematite capital of the Solar System, that's a good thing," Squyres said.

Restoration efforts continue making progress on Spirit. "We have a patient in rehab, and we're nursing her back to health," said JPL's Jennifer Trosper, mission manager.

Engineers found a way to stop Spirit's computer from resetting itself about once an hour by putting the spacecraft into a mode that avoids use of flash memory. Flash memory is a type common in many electronic products, such as digital cameras, for storing information even when the power is off. The rover also has random- access memory, which cannot hold information during the rover's overnight sleep. One of the next steps planned is to erase from flash memory the files stored there from the spacecraft's cruise to Mars from Earth. That is intended to lessen the task of managing the flash memory files.

The rovers' main task is to explore their landing sites during coming months for evidence in the rocks and soil about whether the sites' past environments were ever watery and possibly suitable for sustaining life.

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. "Gear On Opportunity Rover Passes Martian Health Check." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040127084849.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, January 27). Gear On Opportunity Rover Passes Martian Health Check. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040127084849.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Gear On Opportunity Rover Passes Martian Health Check." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040127084849.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Antares Liftoff Explosion

Raw: Antares Liftoff Explosion

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Observers near Wallops Island recorded what they thought would be a routine rocket launch Tuesday night. What they recorded was a major rocket explosion shortly after lift off. (Oct 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station

Raw: Russian Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Just hours after an American cargo run to the International Space Station ended in flames, a Russian supply ship has arrived at the station with a load of fresh supplies. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Journalist Captures Moment of Antares Rocket Explosion

Journalist Captures Moment of Antares Rocket Explosion

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 29, 2014) A space education journalist is among those who witness and record the explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket seconds after its launch. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rocket Explosion Under Investigation

Rocket Explosion Under Investigation

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) NASA and Orbital Sciences officials say they are investigating the explosion of an unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station. It blew up moments after liftoff Tuesday evening over the launch site in Virginia. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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