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Press Release Images: Spirit
17-Jul-2006
 
This black-and-white, microscopic image shows the same light-colored patch of grainy surface debris almost smack in the middle of the image frame. Beneath the bright, chalky-like spot of material is another flat blob of material that looks rather like a film of candle wax covered by sand. All around this lighter material are darker grains of Martian sand.
Robotic Geologist Demonstrates Remarkable Precision (Single Frame)

Engineers designed NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers to be exceptionally predictable when it comes to studying specific rocks and patches of soil. For example, each rover can remove the robotic arm from a target, switch scientific instruments, and resume analysis within 1 millimeter - 0.04 inch - of the original position.

Most samples analyzed by the scientific instruments are large enough that a positioning accuracy of approximately 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) is acceptable. At the current winter outpost of NASA's Spirit rover, however, the science team was interested in analyzing a small, reflective spot only 1 centimeter in diameter associated with a rock target called "Halley". In this instance, a positioning error of 1 centimeter could have missed the target entirely. To be sure this wouldn't happen, team members created a 2x1 microscopic image mosaic of the target based on stereo imaging models of the terrain obtained by Spirit on sol 861 (June 5, 2006). The stereo images from the hazard avoidance cameras provided detailed views as well as distance to features in the field of view. The region of interest - a bit of sparkly, light-toned material - turned out to be offset slightly, as shown in the mosaic.

Given the exceptional repeatability in positioning the robotic arm, engineers were able to transmit the desired coordinates for further study and direct the rover to place the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mässbauer spectrometer in that particular spot, allowing analyses of the light-toned material. A subsequent microscopic image, 32 millimeters (1.2 inches) wide, of the target known as "Halley_Brunt," acquired on sol 880 (June 24, 2006) and shown here, documented that the rover did, in fact, place both spectrometers in the optimum position and analyze the desired patch of sparkly material on the Martian surface.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/USGS
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This vertical mosaic of two microscopic, black-and-white images stacked atop each other shows a light-colored patch of grainy surface debris in the lower right-hand corner. Two narrow traces of the rover's wheel tracks can be seen slanting diagonally from upper left to lower right on the darker, sandy Martian surface that surrounds the light deposit.
Robotic Geologist Demonstrates Remarkable Precision (Mosaic)

Engineers designed NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers to be exceptionally predictable when it comes to studying specific rocks and patches of soil. For example, each rover can remove the robotic arm from a target, switch scientific instruments, and resume analysis within 1 millimeter (0.04 inch) of the original position.

Most samples analyzed by the scientific instruments are large enough that a positioning accuracy of approximately 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) is acceptable. At the current winter outpost of NASA's Spirit rover, however, the science team was interested in analyzing a small, reflective spot only 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) in diameter associated with a rock target called "Halley". In this instance, a positioning error of 1 centimeter could have missed the target entirely. To be sure this wouldn't happen, team members created a 2x1 microscopic image mosaic of the target, shown here, based on stereo imaging models of the terrain obtained by Spirit on sol 861 (June 5, 2006). The stereo images from the hazard avoidance cameras provided detailed views as well as distance to features in the field of view. The region of interest - a bit of sparkly, light-toned material - turned out to be offset slightly.

Given the exceptional repeatability in positioning the robotic arm, engineers were able to transmit the desired coordinates for further study and direct the rover to place the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Mässbauer spectrometer in that particular spot, allowing analyses of the light-toned material. A subsequent microscopic image, 32 millimeters (1.2 inches) wide, of the target known as "Halley_Brunt," acquired on sol 880 (June 24, 2006), documented that the rover did, in fact, place both spectrometers in the optimum position and analyze the desired patch of sparkly material on the Martian surface.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/USGS
Browse Image | Medium Image (235 kB) | Large (1004 kB)

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