Spirit Mission 2009 and onward

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MeteorWayne

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Hi folks, fighting some computer/network at the moment, so will keep this scriblenotes short.

I missed the first 10 or 15 minutes, so this is based on the part I heard. To listen to the teleconference, dial toll free in the US 866-502-6119.

It sounds like they have given up on extracting Spirit from the crater before winter. The priority is improving the amount of power by tilting her in the best possible direction. Due to a number of factors, every 1 degree of tilt adds about 5 watts out of the 160 total, so anything they can do before power runs low will be of great benefit.

Sometime in the March-April (earth season) time frame, Spirit will enter a low power warning hibernation mode which will last through the winter solstice in mid May, and hopefully survive until August- Sept when sufficient power returns for more operation.

The odds are low that she will ever leave the Troy crater. However, there's good science to be done, as Steve Squyres described.

1. Accurate tracking of the precise position of Spirit while it is not moving (after she wakes up) should allow conclusive determination of whether Mars has any liquid in it's core. Basically, by remaining stationary, the precise location of Spirit can be determined. There are two factors...Mars' orbit (which is very precisely known) and the rotation of Mars. With about 6 months of data (after awakening) it should be clear what the state of the Martian core is. While it is pretty well shown that at one time Mars had a liquid core, hence a dynamo, hence a global magnetic field, there's no evidence for a current one...the magnetic field as it currently exists is in patches of a relict field preserved in surface formations. No previous landers/rovers have been able to do this science.

2. Changes in a particular area of the surface can be monitored, showing how the environment changes the surface. When roving, of course, you never look at exactly the same patch of the surface twice. If Spitit is indeed stuck, it's a benefit for this type of examination.

3. Spirit is stuck because it's on a bizarre piece of the surface. When she wakes up there's much that can be learned about this location, where the sulper rich stuff she fell into may indicate a fumarole, or some other unsuspected mechanism.

91 peer reviewed papers have been published so far including 2 Science, and 1 Nature special issues, with 411 abstracts presented at various conferences. That's of a year ago.

Current cost of the combined missions is about $20 million a year.

Total so far for Design, development, launch, primary and extended missions so far is ~ $900 million.

More later.

MW
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
Tariq's SDC article:

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sp ... 00126.html

NASA Article:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/n ... 00126.html

""Spirit is not dead; it has just entered another phase of its long life," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We told the world last year that attempts to set the beloved robot free may not be successful. It looks like Spirit's current location on Mars will be its final resting place."
...

"Solar energy is declining and expected to become insufficient to power further driving by mid-February. The rover team plans to use those remaining potential drives for improving the rover's tilt. Spirit currently tilts slightly toward the south. The winter sun stays in the northern sky, so decreasing the southward tilt would boost the amount of sunshine on the rover's solar panels.

"We need to lift the rear of the rover, or the left side of the rover, or both," said Ashley Stroupe, a rover driver at JPL. "Lifting the rear wheels out of their ruts by driving backward and slightly uphill will help. If necessary, we can try to lower the front right of the rover by attempting to drop the right-front wheel into a rut or dig it into a hole."

...

""There's a class of science we can do only with a stationary vehicle that we had put off during the years of driving," said Steve Squyres, a researcher at Cornell University and principal investigator for Spirit and Opportunity. "Degraded mobility does not mean the mission ends abruptly. Instead, it lets us transition to stationary science."

One stationary experiment Spirit has begun studies tiny wobbles in the rotation of Mars to gain insight about the planet's core. This requires months of radio-tracking the motion of a point on the surface of Mars to calculate long-term motion with an accuracy of a few inches.

"If the final scientific feather in Spirit's cap is determining whether the core of Mars is liquid or solid, that would be wonderful -- it's so different from the other knowledge we've gained from Spirit," said Squyres. "
 
L

langevrouw

Guest
spirit will stand still for eons
now it is time to focus on it's sister .. The Oppster.
That one is doing so well..
 
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bushwhacker

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OMG... i love the comic strip.. Its a sad story that we cant get spirit out but she's still got work she can do.
 
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menellom

Guest
I propose an immediate rescue operation be launched! If Opportunity changes course it can be there in a couple months and help get Spirit unstuck!
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
Zipi":xkzljvt0 said:
This is a very dangerous link !!! Caution is advised !!!
(i could only check a couple of random links, i could not more, and this is very unrelated to the topic, but somebody could get hurt, well, i am still .. :mrgreen: :twisted: :cool: :lol:
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
menellom":kuwa5y6e said:
I propose an immediate rescue operation be launched! If Opportunity changes course it can be there in a couple months and help get Spirit unstuck!
I hope you're being sarcastic, not stupid :)
 
3

3488

Guest
I hope he was just being sarcastic Wayne.

Anyone who has followed the MER programme properly & thoroughly will know that MER B Opportunity is far too far away to come to MER A Spirit.

They are nearly (not quite) antipodal of each other on Mars. IIRC correctly MER B Opportunity is actually closer to the Phoenix Mars Lander than to MER A Spirit.

Sol 2,158 rear HazCam view.


Sol 2,158 rear HazCam view showing how the rear wheels are being anchored, so Spirit can gain a better northward tilt.


Andrew Brown.
 
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WingedWolf

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I was watching This Week In Space with Miles O'Brien, and now that Spirit is officially stuck, it offers new opportunities. From a fixed position, the Spirit can gather new data, possibly even determining whether Mars' core is solid or liquid. Spirit lives on!
 
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Woggles

Guest
WingedWolf":dekuwgmo said:
From a fixed position, the Spirit can gather new data, possibly even determining whether Mars' core is solid or liquid. Spirit lives on!
Totally agree! I wonder if they will try to unstuck Spirit next season. Either way you got to handed to the old girl, she just rocks!
 
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belmonty2

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Nasa's press release last week said that spirit had travelled 13 inches in the last month. Does that mean that in the end it was able to get out of it's hard spot, but just ran out of time to get to a beneficial angle to the sun?
 
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MeteorWayne

Guest
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/n ... 00211.html

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is now parked for the winter. The rover team is commanding Spirit this week to make additional preparations for the Mars southern hemisphere winter season. The team does not plan further motion of the wheels until spring comes to Spirit's location beside the western edge of a low plateau called Home Plate.

On Sol 2169 (Feb. 8, 2010), the rover's last drive before winter changed the angles of its suspension system, but it did not produce a hoped-for improvement to the overall tilt of the solar array for catching winter sunshine. Drives since Sol 2145 (Jan. 15, 2010) moved Spirit 34 centimeters (13 inches) south-southeastward. However, a counterclockwise yawing of the rover during the drives prevented it from reducing its southerly tilt.

Spirit will spend the coming winter tilted 9 degrees toward the south, an unfavorable attitude for the solar panels to catch rays from the sun in the northern sky. Spirit's parking positions for its previous three Martian winters tilted northward. Engineers anticipate that, due to the unfavorable tilt for this fourth winter, Spirit will be out of communication with Earth for several months.

Spirit may enter a low-power hibernation mode within a few weeks, shutting down almost all functions except keeping a master clock running and checking its power status periodically until it has enough power to reawaken. It may go in and out of this mode a few times at the beginning and at the end of an extended hibernation period."

Other info:

As of Sol 2170 (Feb. 9, 2010), the rover solar array energy production was to 185 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (tau) of 0.292 and a dust factor of 0.527. Total odometry is 7,730.50 meters (4.80 miles).
 
A

abq_farside

Guest
paulscottanderson":1w9l4cql said:
Of particular note is that Ray Arvidson is reported as saying, in the new Planetary Society update as well as New Scientist, that Spirit probably should indeed be able to extricate itself after winter (as long as it survives of course) and is as of now "almost out" and that calling it a stationary lander now was "a little bit premature"...

http://www.planetary.org/news/2010/0228 ... pirit.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1 ... again.html
Wow - who would have thought that after all the gloom about it being a stationary science station, to have it moved 13.3 inches, away from Belly Rock and now them thinking it could pop out come next spring is really amazing.

Hang tight Spirit, spring is right around the corner (August/September).

From the Plantary.org article from above.

A good omen?
This image, which Spirit took with its Pancam this month, features a discreet sign of luck that just may be a harbinger of things to come for this determined rover. Click to enlarge, then look inside the circular depression. As rover aficiando Stuart Atkinson, who discovered this, put it: "That has to be a lucky horseshoein that hole." Actually, the rover created the depression with its rock abrasion tool (RAT), but the horseshoe wasn't planned. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / colorization by S. Atkinson
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Silent Spirit … Long Winter Ahead
April 2nd, 2010

Written by Ken Kremer

The Mars rover Spirit has entered her long anticipated low power hibernation mode according to a statement released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory late Wednesday (March 31). Spirit skipped her scheduled downlink on Sol 2218 (March 30, 2010) via the Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) relay through the Mars Odyssey orbiter from her location on the Martian surface at Gusev crater. No telemetry was received from Spirit and there was no evidence of a UHF signal.

“Well, we knew it was coming… in fact, I'm surprised it didn't happen earlier”, Steve Squyres told me today, April 1. Squyres is the Chief Scientist for the Mars rover twins, Spirit and Opportunity.

“The vehicle is all tucked in and ready to hibernate, and we have high hopes that we'll be back in business come springtime. But it's gonna be a long winter,” Squyres added.

Mosaic of the area adjacent to ‘Home Plate’ where Spirit remains stuck as 4th Martain winter experienced by Spirit approaches. Spirit has entered hibernation as of March 30, 2010 due to tripping a low power fault as a result of declining sunlight. Mosaic shows smooth area, foreground, that concealed slippery water related sulfate material where rover became stuck, but made great Science Discoveries ! Will Spirit survive the extremely harsh bone chilling cold temperatures of winter ? Credit: Kenneth Kremer, Marco DiLorenzo, NASA/JPL/Cornell/Spaceflight Now

Mosaic of microscopic images of Spirit underbelly on Sol 1925 (June 2009) showing the predicament of being stuck at Troy with wheels buried in the sulfate-rich martian soil. The sulfate deposits formed by aqueous (water-related) processes when this area dubbed “Home Plate’ was volcanically active. This false color mosaic has been enhanced and stretched to bring out additional details about the surrounding terrain and embedded wheels and distinctly show a pointy rock perhaps in contact with the underbelly. Spirit fortuitously discovered extensive new evidence for an environment of flowing liquid water at this location on Mars adjacent to ‘Home Plate’, an eroded over volcanic feature. Credit: Marco Di Lorenzo, Ken Kremer - NASA/JPL/Cornell
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
May 11:

Spirit remains silent at her location called "Troy" on the west side of Home Plate. No communication has been received from the rover since Sol 2210 (March 22, 2010).

It is likely that Spirit has experienced a low-power fault and has turned off all sub-systems, including communication. The rover will use the available solar array energy to recharge her batteries. When the batteries recover to a sufficient state of charge, Spirit will wake up and begin to communicate over X-band. When that does happen, Spirit will also trip an up-loss timer fault. This fault response will allow the rover to communicate over Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) as well.

It is not known when the rover will wake up, so the project has been listening every day for any X-band signal from Spirit through the Deep Space Network (DSN) using the Radio Science Receiver (RSR). Mars Odyssey is also listening for any scheduled UHF relay passes
 
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nimbus

Guest
So there's no estimate for how long the battery recharge will take?
 
C

centsworth_II

Guest
nimbus":3mig2ksf said:
So there's no estimate for how long the battery recharge will take?
There are several unknowns, primarily the level of dust in the atmosphere and the amount of dust on Spirit's solar arrays. These were know when Spirit went to sleep but may have changed for better or worse since then. Local temperatures may also have an effect. A best case scenario would have Spirit being cleaned up a bit by a gust of wind and reporting back sooner than it would otherwise.
 
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