PASADENA, Calif. — The Mars rover Spirit maneuvered through rocks and ended up in steep terrain as it climbed toward the rim of a big crater, and its twin Opportunity resumed boring into a rock after overcoming a problem with its grinder, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Tuesday.
Spirit completed two drives totaling 94 feet, including 35 feet using autonomous navigation, as it moved toward the rim of a big crater that scientists have dubbed "Bonneville." When its day ended just before midnight Monday, the rover was tilted 15 degrees.
The distance traveled by Spirit since its Jan. 3 landing now totals 1,030 feet, almost 46 feet farther than the minimum set for the mission to be considered a success, JPL said.
"Bonneville," an impact crater, was chosen as a destination in the early days of the mission because it could give Spirit access to rocks well below the surface of the martian region called Gusev Crater, a Connecticut-sized depression in which the rover landed.
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On the other side of the Red Planet, Opportunity ground a hole about one-tenth of an inch deep into a target called "Mojo 2" during a martian day that ended at 12:10 p.m. PST Tuesday, JPL said.
Engineers had determined that the rover's rock abrasion tool needed a voltage adjustment to avoid a repeat of difficulty that surfaced during the weekend, JPL said.
After a grinding session ended without a mark on the rock, engineers determined that the tool hadn't actually been in contact with the surface because of a problem in the process of finding the highest point of the target area.
The new effort ended after 65 minutes of grinding when the rock abrasion tool's grinding motor stalled, probably because it hit one of the round objects dubbed "blueberries" that have been turning up embedded in martian rocks. JPL said the spherules have been known to stop the grinding tool.
JPL also released an image of a partial solar eclipse created by the Martian moon Phobos, captured Sunday by Opportunity.
The image follows up on another eclipse view released last week, showing Mars’ smaller moon, Deimos, as a tiny speck on the face of the sun. That picture, made March 4, was the first observation of a moon passing in front of the sun from the surface of another world, JPL said.
Both rovers' panoramic cameras will be used to capture similar events during the next six weeks, including an image of Phobos expected this week that scientists believe will be the most dramatic.
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