"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Congrats to all at JPL and NASA

In Orbit

Spirit Surpasses 1,000 Martian Days In Service
Aviation Week & Space Technology
11/06/2006, page 19

Edited by Frank Morring, Jr.

Printed headline: Spiritual Journey

Spirit, the Mars Exploration Rover designed to last only 90 sols--Martian days--has surpassed 1,000 sols in service. Each sol is about 40 min. longer than an Earth day, meaning Spirit has been functioning on Mars more than 1,026 Earth days. During this period, the plucky robot has transmitted more than 87,100 images to Earth. Opportunity, its sister rover that landed on the opposite side of the planet a little later in January 2004, has surpassed 980 sols and returned more than 79,000 images. Sprit is resting on a north-facing slope near the base of Husband Hill, which is named after USAF Col. Rick Husband, the last commander of the shuttle Columbia. From this location, the rover has been able to keep its solar array pointed at the Sun for maximum electrical and heater capability during the southern-hemisphere Martian winter, when temperatures can drop below -50F. Although stationary for the past several weeks, Spirit has been collecting science data while parked. With Sun angles improving in the coming weeks, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory controllers will move Spirit a few hundred feet back to an unusual circular volcanic feature dubbed Home Plate. Opportunity, meanwhile, is on the edge of Victoria Crater, where it, too, has paused temporarily to allow Mars to emerge from behind the Sun for better radio communications. Both orbiters are using the Mars Odyssey orbiter as a radio relay, while Spirit this week will also test a relay through the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

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