Thursday, March 10, 2011

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity: Ruiz Garcia rock

Opportunity Status for sol 2520-2526: Opportunity is completing the last in-situ (contact) study at Santa Maria crater.

On Sol 2520 (Feb. 25, 2011), the rover bumped 5.35 meters (18 feet) forward to approach the target "Ruiz Garcia," an exposed rock.

Then, on the next sol, Opportunity attempted to collect a series of microscopic imager (MI) images, but the MI poker (to detect stand-off distance) did not trip.

The project is investigating this. It could be because of the irregular rock surface, or the switch may no longer function.

The MI poker is used infrequently and it has been some time since it was last used. The Mossbauer (MB) spectrometer touch plate can be and is used (frequently) as a functional alternate for the MI poker.

On Sol 2524 (March 1, 2011), the rover did collected several microscopic imager images, but the robotic arm (Instrument Deployment Device, or IDD) experienced a stall in Joint 2 (the elbow joint) due to the very long reach of the arm and very small commanded motion.

This has been seen before and is expected anytime the IDD is making such a long reach. In any case, a diagnostic maneuver on Sol 2525 (March 2, 2011), confirmed the health of the arm and joint. The rover, also on that sol, bumped 21 centimeters (8 inches) closer to the rock to shorten the IDD reach.

The plan ahead, after the work on Ruiz Garcia is complete, is to drive to the final imaging waypoint around the crater, perform the wide-baseline stereo imaging of the crafter interior, and resume the path towards Endeavour crater, some 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) away.

As of Sol 2526 (March 3, 2011), solar array energy production was 446 watt-hours with an elevated atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 1.35 and a solar array dust factor of 0.599.

Total odometry is 26,686.94 meters (26.69 kilometers, or 16.58 miles).

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