Opportunity cruising to exposed bedrock
BY JUSTIN RAY
Posted: February 6, 2004
Driving up the inclined wall of the small crater the craft landed in, the Mars rover Opportunity was expected to arrive at the outer edge of bedrock outcropping early Saturday to begin its geologic work.
Earlier this week, the Opportunity rover used its suite of instruments to examine a patch of soil in front of the rover. This is the spot where the craft drove to after rolling of its lander base last weekend.
"We've had a good number of productive days over the last few days. We completed exercising the instrument arm and the Mossbauer Spectrometer, APXS (Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer) and MI (Microscopic Imager) at the site where we egressed to.
"Yesterday, we completed a drive of about three-and-a-half meters. The drive was composed of several arc turns to the left, followed by an arc turn to the right, a turn in place and then a small drive forward, all of which were designed to give us some additional confidence in the characterization of the mobility system and its performance at Meridiani in this crater.
"Today, we sequenced a drive to approach the right-hand side of the outcrop, a target that is named Snout. The drive was about a 1.6-meter drive. We executed the drive (but) we came up a little bit short on Snout. And so we will complete that approach tomorrow."
Opportunity has another 30 or 40 centimeters to go, Wallace said.
As the rover climbs the crater wall, it is pitched nose-up by almost 13 degrees, he said.
Before finishing the drive Saturday, Opportunity's arm will be deployed to take microscopic images of it the soil of the current position before moving on.
"We'll drop the arm down towards the soil and take several more of these spectacular Microscopic Imager pictures of the soil so we can continue to catalogue the soil inside this crater. Then we will restow the arm and drive forward."
After reaching Snout, the rover's science devices will be employed Sunday to examine the exposed bedrock.
"From there, it's looking like the scientists are asking us to start an arc along the bottom of the outcrop area, stopping at several choice viewing locations and taking some additional pictures and potentially dropping the arm down and getting additional microscopic images as we go.
"So that's where we've been and that's where we're going.
"The spacecraft continues to operate nominally. She's healthy and happy and continuing to do the job she was sent to do."
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