March 1, 2004 Pasadena, California – Nasa reports that the Spirit rover: “…used its rock abrasion tool for brushing the dust off three patches of a rock named “Humphrey,” during its 55th sol on Mars, ending at 5:53 p.m. Saturday, PST. Before applying the wire-bristled brush, the rover inspected the surface of the rock with its microscope and with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, which identifies elements that are present. Brushing three different places on a rock one right after another was an unprecedented use of the rock abrasion tool, designed to provide a larger cleaned area for examining.
Afterwards, Spirit rolled backward 85 centimeters (2.8 feet) to a position from which it could use its miniature thermal emission spectrometer on the cleaned areas for assessing what minerals are present. Due to caution about potential hazards while re-approaching Humphrey, the rover moved only part of the way back. Plans for sol 56, ending at 6:33 p.m. Sunday, PST, call for finishing that re-approach and further inspecting the brushed areas. If all goes well, the rock abrasion tool’s diamond-toothed grinding wheel will cut into the rock on sol 57 to expose fresh interior material.”
On the other side of Mars at the Meridiani Planum, Opportunity has ground yet again on the bedrock section called “El Capitan.” Extensive measurements will be made as scientists continue to look for evidence of water, past or present, and for elemental composition.
During its 35th sol on Mars, ending at 6:14 a.m. Sunday, PST, Opportunity manipulated the microscopic imager at the tip of its arm for eight observations of the fine textures of an outcrop-rock target called “Guadalupe.” The observations include frames to be used for developing stereo and color views.
Opportunity also used its Moessbauer spectrometer and, after an overnight switch, its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to assess the composition of the interior material of “Guadalupe” exposed yestersol by a grinding session with the rock abrasion tool.
The panoramic camera up on the rover’s mast captured a new view toward the eastern horizon beyond the crater where Opportunity is working, for use in evaluating potential drive directions after the rover leaves the crater.
Plans for sol 36, ending at 6:54 a.m. Monday, PST, called for finishing the close-up inspection of “Guadalupe,” then backing up enough to give the panoramic camera and miniature emission spectrometer good views of the area where the rock interior has been exposed by grinding.
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