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Sunday, February 05, 2006


Spirit rover timeline
Spirit rover timeline for 2004 January
Spirit rover timeline for 2004 February
Spirit rover timeline for 2004 March
Opportunity rover timeline
Opportunity rover timeline for 2004 January
Opportunity rover timeline for 2004 February
Opportunity rover timeline for 2004 March

landed Saturday 2004 January 3

January 3-January 4 (Time and date and astronomy on Mars 1 ends 2004-01-04 14:15 UTC) - JPL Images from 1/3/2004 20:35 PST - MER-A landed in Gusev (Mars crater) crater, however not exactly at its appointed landing spot within the crater (believed by scientists to once have been a crater lake). It later became apparent that the rover had landed six miles downrange from its planned landing site, but has landed in an area possibly even more favorable for the tests scientists want the rover to perform. A few hours after landing, first photography is received via relay through NASAs Mars Odyssey orbiter. first photography from nasa.gov Three descent images showed its progress as it came down. descent images from nasa.gov.

week starting 2004 January 5

January 5 (Sol 2 ends 2004-01-05 14:55 UTC) JPL Images from 1/5/2004 The lander locks on its high-gain antenna and begins transmitting color photographs directly to Earth. The first 3D Stereogram images are sent back from Spirit. Four of five planned tests on scientific instruments on MER-A have been successful, the fifth instrument test is expected to occur later tonight. See Mars Exploration Rover Mission Scientific instruments carried by the Rovers. January 6 (Sol 3 ends 2004-01-06 15:35 UTC) JPL Images from 1/6/2004 08:00 PST - President of the United States George W. Bush calls JPL to congratulate the MER team for a successful landing. The first high resolution, full color image is received from Spirit. the day, a series of high quality color images were sent from Spirit to NASA. During a news conference about the days events Steve Squyres, science chief of the MER mission said This is just a tiny taste of whats to come, referring to the first color images coming back. NASA Administrator Sean OKeefe today announced plans to name the landing site of the Mars Spirit rover in honor of the astronauts who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster of the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003. The area in the vast flatland of the Gusev Crater where Spirit landed will be called the Columbia Memorial Station. A photo from Mars is released showing a memorial plaque mounted on Spirit in March 2003. 7 (Sol 4 ends 2004-01-07 16:14 UTC) JPL Images from 1/7/2004 09:00 PST - Daily news briefing broadcast from JPL over NASA TV. A few new images are released, mainly polished versions of earlier images. Events from Sol 4 are reviewed, including a diagnostic test of a high gain antenna motor voltage spike (which occurred on Sol 2), which did not show any problems and was attributed to debris in the antenna machine housing. Airbag retraction was continued on Sol 4. Sol 5 activities are discussed, scientists and engineers on the MER team are anxious to get Spirit separated from its lander and moving around the martian surface. A plot is released by JPL showing the Dust Optical depth of the Gusev (Mars crater) crater and Meridiani Planum areas of Mars. The plot shows a measure of the amount of dust in the martian atmosphere as taken by instruments on the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor satellite. Recent dust storms in December and January on Mars have greatly increased the amount of dust in the atmosphere around Meridiani Planum, the expected landing site of MER-As sister rover MER-B, landing 1/24/2004. It is unknown at this point if this increased dust activity will hinder Opportunitys mission. 8 (Sol 5 ends 2004-01-08 16:54 UTC) JPL Images from 1/8/2004 09:00 PST - Daily news briefing from JPL, apparently the activities to further retract the airbag under Spirits lander were unsuccessful. On Sol 6 JPL engineers will try 6 rotations to try and force the partially deflated airbags fully under the lander. If this attempt fails, Spirit may have to turn itself around on the lander and attempt egress via another route. Engineers will also begin Spirits two step lifting process to stand up on the lander. Step 1 is to raise Spirit up on its back 4 wheels, and Step 2 is to deploy the currently retracted front wheels. It is predicted that the airbag problem will delay Spirits egress from the lander to January 14 or later. Currently the plan is to lift landing petal on the lander that Spirit is preparing travel down and attempt to tuck the excess airbag material under the petal. 9 (Sol 6 ends 2004-01-09 17:33 UTC) JPL Images from 1/9/2004 During the night of Sol 6 Spirit successfully completed parts one and two of the stand up operation and now has its front wheels deployed and is almost ready to egress. Parts three and four of the stand up operation will be executed tonight. of data from Spirits Mini-TES were released attempt to pack the inflated airbags under the ramp petals of the lander failed. Now JPL engineers will attempt to turn the rover around while still on the lander and egress down one of the other ramps on the lander. This activity has been practiced before MER mission launch and is expected to work. January 10 (Sol 7 ends 2004-01-10 18:13 UTC) JPL Images from 1/10/2004 The Spirit Rover completed its stand up operation and is now standing with all six wheels deployed and locked, with one final connection between the lander and Spirit remaining. January 11 (Sol 8 ends 2004-01-11 18:52 UTC) JPL Images from 1/11/2004 At the conclusion of Sol 8 the Spirit Rovers science arm, which features tools for digging into and taking close up images of rocks, was moved from its stowed launch position to its forward drive position.

week starting 2004 January 12

January 12 (Sol 9 ends 2004-01-12 19:32 UTC) JPL Images from 1/12/2004 During Sol 9 the Spirit Rover performed science activities and returned data from the Pancam, completing the 360 panoramic image it took of its surroundings last week. Mini-TES data suggests more evidence that the Gusev site may have been a water filled lake. Engineers plan the egress operation Spirit will begin on Sol 10 using a replica of the Spirit rover and lander. The tests go well, and no problems are expected. January 13 (Sol 10 ends 2004-01-13 20:12 UTC) JPL Images from 1/13/2004 Sol 10 activities included successfully cutting the last link between the Spirit rover and lander. The first 45 degree turn was successful and the rover is preparing for egress. On Earth, mission details for the rovers exploration of the martian surface are being planned now that it is known exactly where Spirit is within Gusev (Mars crater) crater. January 14 (Sol 11 ends 2004-01-14 20:51 UTC) January 15 (Sol 12 ends 2004-01-15 21:31 UTC) Images from 1/15/2004 Spirit leaves the launch vehicle. January 16 (Sol 13 ends 2004-01-16 22:10 UTC) A 3-D perspective image is taken by the panoramic camera onboard the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit showing Adirondack, the rovers first target rock.

week starting 2004 January 19

January 20 (Sol 16 ends 2004-01-20 00:09 UTC) Images from 1/20/2004 NASA Mars Rover?s First Soil Analysis Yields Surprises Among these surprises, is the detection of olivine, which does not survive weathering well. January 21 (Sol 17 ends 2004-01-21 00:49 UTC) Spirit stops transmitting data and no longer responds to commands. January 22 (Sol 18 ends 2004-01-22 01:28 UTC) The rover radioed a 7.8 bit/s beep Thursday morning confirming that it had received a transmission from Earth. The 7.8 bit/s indicates that the spacecraft believes it is in a fault mode. Still, it has not returned any data since early Wednesday. Flight-team engineers for NASAs Mars Exploration Rover Project are working to diagnose the cause of communications difficulties. Project manager Pete Theisinger described the situation as a very serious anomaly. He did say however that If this problem on Spirit is somehow a software corruption issue, or memory corruption issue thats reflecting itself in software, and theres not a serious power fault, Spirit can go for quite a long time and we can pick up the pieces again. Steve Squyres, the Cornell University astronomy professor who heads the Mars missions science team, said Its cause for concern, certainly, but its not cause for alarm. Ive been in this business for almost 25 years now, and Ive been involved in over a dozen different planetary missions. I dont know of a single one that hasnt had a problem like this somewhere along the line, and I include in that list missions like Voyager program and Magellan probe that were spectacular successes. This kind of thing is part of the business of operating complicated spacecraft far from Earth. He continued stating that This vehicle knows how to protect itself when something goes wrong, and can do so for long periods of time. He concluded saying Im very optimistic that well get this straightened out, and get back to the business of exploring Gusev crater. The NASA team plans to instruct the craft to send back engineering data from Spirits onboard memory (for diagnostic purposes) and possibly send commands to restore normal communication at around 6 a.m. EST tomorrow. On NASA Television, JPL Director Charles Elachi said We are cautiously encouraged, and added It is a pretty smart machine that we have up there and the key thing that we are going to do next is to communicate with it tomorrow morning and ask it to send us some data down so we can do a diagnostic of whats the problem January 23 (Sol 19 ends 2004-01-23 02:08 UTC) NASAs Spirit rover communicated with Earth in a signal detected by NASAs Deep Space Network antenna complex near Madrid, Spain, at 12:34 Universal Time (4:34 a.m. PST) this morning. The transmissions came during a communication window about 90 minutes after Spirit woke up for the morning on Mars. The signal lasted for 10 minutes at a data rate of 10 bits per second. Mission controllers at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., plan to send commands to Spirit seeking additional data from the spacecraft during the subsequent few hours. flight team for NASAs Spirit received actual data from the rover in another communication session that began at 13:26 Universal Time (5:26 a.m. PST) and lasted 20 minutes at a data rate of 120 bits per second. before noon, controllers were surprised to receive a relay of data from Spirit via the Mars Odyssey orbiter. Spirit sent 73 megabits at a rate of 128 kilobits per second. At a news briefing, Pete Theisinger said, The software is in X-band fault mode. We surmise it got there because of some problem with the high-gain antenna pointing, and that is why the second High Gain Antenna pass on Wednesday did not work. It gives us a little bit of a tale-tell for what is going on with the processor now. But as I pointed out to you, the flight software is not functioning normally. The two times we have gone and communicated with the system, we have gotten different flight software behaviors. Therefore we do not have assurance the next time we go and ask for it we will get either one of those two behaviors or perhaps a third behavior. Later Theisinger said that the Spirit is in critical condition and stated that We do not know to what extent we can restore functionality to the system because we dont know whats broke. We dont know what started this chain of events. I think, personally, that is a sequence of things. And we dont know, therefore, the consequences of that. I think it is difficult, at this very preliminary stage, to assume that we did not have some type of hardware event that caused this to start. Therefore, we dont know to what extent we can work around that hardware event and to what extent we can get the software to ignore that hardware event, if that is what we eventually have to do. An anomaly team has been formed, completely separate from the Opportunity team. They will be working a schedule that will look like 0500 Mars Time to about 1500 Mars Time. At the press conference, Theisinger said that Spirit has been in a processor reset loop of some type, mostly since Wednesday, we believe, where the processor wakes up, loads the flight software, uncovers a condition that would cause it to reset. But the processor doesnt do that immediately. It waits for a period of time - at the beginning of the day it waits for 15 minutes twice and then for the rest of the day it waits for an hour - and then it resets and comes back up. He added that Spirits central computer has rebooted itself more than 60 times over the past two days. Theisinger also noted that The indications we have on two occasions is that the thing that causes the reset is not always perceived to be the same. At the press conference, two computer animations of Spirits landing were released. Also released was an image of Spirits landing site taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera on the Mars Global Surveyor. 24 (Sol 20 ends 2004-01-24 02:48) At a press conference which started at 3:00 EST, Theisinger says that the there is a problem with Spirits flash memory and the software that writes to it. The Spirit is in crippled mode and can operate using RAM instead of flash. In this mode, the rover has obeyed commands about communicating and going into sleep mode. Spirit communicated successfully at 120 bits per second for nearly an hour. The rover has been upgraded from critical to serious, said project manager Pete Theisinger. January 25 (Sol 21 ends 2004-01-25 03:27 UTC) At a press conference, Theisinger says that the NASA team been able to successfully run the first master sequence since the anomaly prevented the completion of a task on Wednesday. He adds that the team is moving towards regarding the situation as a guarded condition as opposed to the current serious condition. He says that the flash hardware is in fact believed to be working correctly but the file management module in the software is not robust enough for the operations the Spirit was engaged in when the problem occurred, indicating a software bug, as opposed to faulty hardware.

week starting 2004 January 26

January 27 (Sol 23 ends 2004-01-27 04:46 UTC) At todays 12:00 EST press conference, Jennifer Trosper explains the current situtation regarding Spirit: First comm window of the day is happening as we speak. Not a lot of new data yet. Subsystems all nominal. Batteries are in good shape. No degradation from discharge a couple nights ago. Thermal working. Today our intent was to try to get a trace of the task causing the problem. We dont have that data yet. Maybe at a later comm today. Weve done some analysis of data we already had on ground plus some testing in testbed. One data is the position of the HGA based on potentiometers. Rover doesnt rely on that, just for measurements. HGA was active when we started to get problems. We got info that in the mooring of sol 18 our comm dropped out 10 minutes early. As a result we attempted to command a HGA session. We saw nothing. It had a calibration where we move to hardstop and then track earth. Position now indicates that it only moved through calibration half way. Important because activity that started the reset was not in the HGA because it moved fully to the correct position after the reset problem. Thats good news. The other information we got was a result of running tests in our avionics test environment. Loading up a bunch of files. Couldnt reproduce it fully. Got some key aspects of the problem. Looking forward to getting more data down. Continuing to dump out the flash memory, get that data down. Yesterday only about 18.5 megabits. Expect to get 80 megabits today. January 29 (Sol 25 ends 2004-01-29 06:05 UTC) NASAs Mars Exploration Rover Spirit took and returned this image on January 28, 2004 (Sol 25), the first picture from Spirit since problems with communications began a week earlier. The image from the rovers front hazard identification camera shows the robotic arm extended to the rock called Adirondack. As it had been instructed a week earlier, the Mossbauer spectrometer, an instrument for identifying the minerals in rocks and soils, is still placed against the rock. Engineers are working to restore Spirit to working order so that the rover can resume the scientific exploration of its landing area. February 1 (Sol 28 ends 2004-02-01 08:04 UTC) After intensive diagnostic work, the working hypothesis is that Spirits problems were caused by the contents of the flash memory it uses for mission data storage causing Spirit to use all of its available RAM when mounting the flash memory. Work has commenced on fixing the problem.
MER-A timeline
MER-A timeline for 2004 January
MER-A timeline for 2004 February
MER-A timeline for 2004 March
MER-B timeline
MER-B timeline for 2004 January
MER-B timeline for 2004 February
MER-B timeline for 2004 March


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