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The Triple Lutz of Remote Geology

View a larger image (220 kB) or learn about other sol 13 images.

After a stressful wait, scientists and engineers received telemetry data on the results of the difficult instrument placement they had commanded the rover to accomplish.

First reports indicated that there had been an unexpected closure of the Mössbauer contact switch. A contact switch exists on each instrument on the rover arm. It is used to sense contact with the environment.

Had contact with the target been made by the Microscopic Imager, that instrument's contact switch would have been activated. While executing the arm motion, closure of the contact switch on the selected instrument is expected when the instrument is in place for the measurement.

Because an instrument other than the instrument selected for the current measurement made contact with the target, the rover followed its programmed safeguarding instructions to stop arm motion, declare the activity unsuccessful, and gather data useful to rover engineers for diagnosing what happened and for recovering use of the arm. This safeguarding decision helps to maintain rover health and subsequent operability.

This exercise was a testament to the challenge posed by the complex geometry of the Kaibab overhang for precision robotic instrument placement. "This maneuver was like the triple-Lutz of remote geology," said PI Steve Squyres. "But that's what the FIDO tests are for - we want to push ourselves and the rover as hard as we can."

There were some big successes in Sol 13 however. "What's really positive is we did get some good scientific Pancam instrument data on Kaibab as a result of the drive and getting in close. This is a really rich data set for the scientists to analyze", says Squyres.

This mosaic of Kaibab was one of the data sets acquired from this challenging maneuver.

At the end of the sol, engineers determined that the rover is in good health and advised scientists that the arm must be safely stowed before subsequent rover operations are allowed.

Eddie Tunstel

Mark Powell

Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu

Eric Baumgartner


Jeff Norris


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Last Updated: 18 August 2002

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