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Rover looks into crater
The spectacular high-resolution, color panorama from the Mars rover Opportunity at the edge of Endurance Crater is presented with expert narration by Steve Squyres, the mission's lead scientist. (2min 08sec file)
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The Columbia Hills
Explore the Columbia Hills at Gusev Crater where Spirit is headed in this computer-generated movie using imagery from orbit. Expert narration by Amy Knudson, science team collaborator. (3min 11sec file)
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May 6 rover briefing
The Mars rover Opportunity's arrival at Endurance Crater and Spirit's trek to the Columbia Hills are topics in this news conference from May 6. (42min 12sec file)
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April 28 rover briefing
Activities of the two Mars Exploration Rovers and new images are discussed in this briefing from April 28. (41min 08sec file)
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April 14 rover briefing
The software overhaul performed on both Mars rovers, new science information and photographs are discussed at this briefing from Wednesday, April 14. (31min 29sec file)
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Lion King panorama
The stunning "Lion King" high-resolution color panorama from the Opportunity rover shows the vast landing site. Expert narration by Jason Soderblom, science team collaborator. (2min 12sec file)
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Opportunity trench
Opportunity rover uses one of its wheels to dig another trench in the soil for science investigations. Narration by Jan Chodas, flight software manager. (25sec file)
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April 8 rover briefing
Officials discuss the extended missions for the Mars rovers and present the latest pictures at this briefing from Thursday, April 8. (34min 10sec file)
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April 1 rover update
New pictures and science results from the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars are presented at this briefing from Thursday, April 1. (52min 57sec file)
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Spirit examines Mazatzal
Imagery from the Spirit rover shows the brushing and grinding work performed on the rock nicknamed "Mazatzal." Expert narration by science team member Hap McSween. (1min 37sec file)
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'Bounce' rock
Imagery from the Opportunity rover showing the rock nicknamed "Bounce" with expert narration by Jim Bell, lead scientist for the panoramic camera. (5min 29sec file)
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Panorama preview
The first slice of a high-resolution color panorama produced from Opportunity now outside its landing-site crater is revealed with expert narration by Jim Bell. (29sec file)
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March 26 rover briefing
The latest pictures and science results from the twin Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity are presented at this briefing on March 26. (50min 02sec file)
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Columbia Hills
Spirit looks forward to the Columbia Hills in the distance where the rover is headed in this imagery narrated by mission manager Matt Wallace. (50sec file)
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Spirit extends arm
Spirit's science instrument arm is employed to examine a light-colored rock as explained by Ray Arvidson, deputy principal investigator. (1min 35sec file)
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Plan for Spirit
The plan for Spirit trek to the hills is described by science team member Larry Crumpler. (2min 37sec file)
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Panorama in crater
A panorama of Eagle Crater where the Opportunity landed and has explored for the past two months is presented with narration by mission manager Matt Wallace. (2min 29sec file)
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Pan outside crater
Following its exit from Eagle Crater, Opportunity snapped this panorama looking back at the shallow crater in the flat plains of Meridiani Planum as presented with narration by mission manager Matt Wallace. (40sec file)
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Mars water discovery
Scientists present evidence from the Mars rover Opportunity during this Tuesday news conference that shows the landing site was once the bottom of a salty sea. (76min 48sec file)
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Mars rover briefing
The latest pictures and science results from the twin Mars Exploration Rovers and future plans for Spirit and Opportunity are presented at this briefing Thursday. (59min 12sec file)
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Crater panorama
The spectacular color panorama from the Mars rover Spirit shows the Bonneville Crater, the discarded heatshield and surround terrain is explained with expert narration by science team member John Grant. (2min 15sec file)
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Scuffing the drift
Spirit's work to "scuff" or disturb the crusty surface from a wind drift is described in this imagery narrated by science team member John Grant. (1min 07sec file)
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BY JUSTIN RAY

Follow the missions of NASA's "Spirit" Mars Exploration Rover-A and "Opportunity" MER-B on the Red Planet! Reload this page for the very latest on both rovers. Use our text only page for faster downloads.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2004
NASA's solar-powered Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is beginning on Thursday what controllers expect to be frequent use of an overnight "deep sleep" mode to stretch the robot's power supply. But the new mode increases risk that, without an overnight heater running, one of the six scientific instruments might fail due the cold. Read full story.

MONDAY, MAY 17, 2004
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has begun sampling rocks blasted out from a stadium-sized impact crater the rover is circling, and the very first one may extend our understanding about the region's wet past. Read full story.

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VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH ROVER PROJECT SCIENTIST QT
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THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2004
The Mars rover Opportunity has spent the past several days exploring around the rim of Endurance Crater, giving scientists different views of the landscape.

The latest Mission Control report:

On Sol 103, Opportunity traversed approximately 13 meters (about 43 feet) farther south along the eastern rim of "Endurance Crater," reaching the beginning of the "Karatepe" area. On sol 104, the rover approached "Lion Stone," a rock at the crater's edge that stands about 10 centimeters tall (about 4 inches) and is about 30 centimeters long (12 inches). This brought Opportunity's total mission odometry to 1,054meters (3,458 feet)!

On Sol 105, Opportunity acquired a series of microscopic images of Lion Stone and the surrounding soil.

The rover then went on to collect a short Moessbauer integration on the rock during the day, performed a tool change to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer in late afternoon, and acquired that integration in the early morning of Sol 106. That sol also included additional microscopic images and a successful "bump" maneuver to reposition the rover so the top of Lion Stone was in position for the rock abrasion tool on Sol 107. Remote sensing was also acquired during the two sols, including panoramic camera images of the heatshield that protected Opportunity during its toasty trip through the martian atmosphere. The heatshield impacted approximately 250 meters (about 820 feet) south of Endurance Crater.

Plans for Sol 107 are to perform a rock abrasion tool grind on Lion Stone with subsequent microscopic images and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer overnight integration. The tentative plan for Sol 108 is to leave Lion Stone and begin traverse to observation position 2 on the southeastern rim of Endurance Crater.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2004
Spirit drove 80 meters (262.5 feet) on sol 124, bringing its total odometry to 1,909.52 meters (1.2 miles). Spirit has less than 1.2 kilometers (.75 mile) to go before reaching the base of the"Columbia Hills," and will reach them by sol 160. Later in the martian day, after completing the sol 124 drive, Spirit took a 360-degree afternoon panorama of its surroundings with the navigation camera.

On sol 125, Spirit continued driving and set a new one-sol driving record of 123.7 meters (405.8 feet). Science on Sol 125 included morning atmospheric sky and ground remote sensing, mini thermal emission spectrometer observation of the sol 126 instrument deployment device work volume, imaging with the panoramic camera, and cloud observations.

After the long sol 125 drive, Spirit was in perfect position to work with the instrument deployment device on sol 126. This included alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, Moessbauer and microscopic imager work on a target called "Lead Foot" (in honor of the big drive on sol 125). The Moessbauer was used as the feeler for all these activities but touched down on rocks rather than soil at the "Lead Foot" location, compromising the Moessbauer and microscopic imager data (images out of focus). Spirit also did some driving on this sol, and added 55.6 meters (182.4 feet) to the odometer, bringing Spirit's new drive total to 2,089 meters (1.3 miles). At the end of the sol, Spirit successfully executed a sequence that used the panoramic camera to find the Sun and correct for accumulated rover attitude errors.

MONDAY, MAY 10, 2004
Opportunity awoke on sol 102 from its first "deep sleep." This set of activities was initiated to conserve the energy that is being used by the instrument arm's stuck-on heater switch. During deep sleep, rover planners power off the main electronics at night and open the switches that supply battery power to the main power bus, and in turn nearly all the secondary electronics. In particular this removes power input to the Rover Power Distribution Unit, which normally supplies power to the stuck-on heater. With the Rover Power Distribution Unit input turned off, the heater cannot burn any energy either. In the morning, when the sun strikes the solar panel array, the Battery Control Board resets and connects the batteries to the main power bus again. At this time, the stuck-on heater again draws power, but this will only be for a few hours in the morning instead of all night.

The most vulnerable instrument to the cold martian nights is the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. With a cutoff of the power electronics, its heater cannot keep it warm overnight. Data returned on sol 102 showed the temperature reached -46 degrees Celsius (-50.8 degrees Fahrenheit), a bit warmer than the spectrometer's lowest proven temperature for functionality, -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).

Rover planners commanded Opportunity to take a drive during the afternoon of sol 102 to the south, along the edge of the crater toward a dark rock in the vicinity.

More remote sensing was conducted, including miniature thermal emission spectrometer measurements that confirmed the instrument is still functioning normally after deep sleep.

Wake-up songs for the sols were "Morning has Broken" by Cat Stevens; "Hallelujah Chorus" from George Frideric Handel's Messiah; and "Dazed and Confused" by Led Zeppelin.

Spirit surpasses the one-mile mark!

On sol 121, after a brief nap, Spirit conducted atmospheric measurements before continuing its trek toward the "Columbia Hills." A 96.8 meter (318 feet) drive that consisted of about half direct drive and half auto-navigational drive broke Spirit's last one-sol distance traveled. That drive brought the mission total to 1,669 meters (1.04 miles), flipping the rover's odometer over the one-mile mark.

Sol 122 was a touch-and-go day, starting with a half-hour alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration, a one-hour Moessbauer integration and a set of four microscopic images all on the same patch of soil. Panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer data were also obtained before an afternoon nap. The bulk of the afternoon was spent driving another 65 meters (213 feet).

Sol 123 started off with Panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations for near-field surveys, atmospheric studies, and localization. Spirit then took a half-hour nap, followed by the day's drive. This sol consisted of another 48-meter (about 157-feet) direct drive, the mid-drive survey and localization remote sensing, and then 47-meters (about 154 feet) of driving using auto-navigation. The total was 95.2 meters (312 feet), bringing the mission total to 1830 meters (1.14 miles).

FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2004
Spirit is now approximately 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) away from the base of the "Columbia Hills" after three long sols of driving. Its odometer currently reads 1,566 meters (.97 miles) and counting.

Sol 118 was a record-breaking driving sol for Spirit. The Gusev Crater rover moved 92.4 meters (303 feet) across the surface in one sol, breaking its previous record of around 90 meters (295 feet). The Opportunity rover still has Spirit beat with a one-sol driving record of 140 meters (459.3 feet).

Sol 119 proved to be a more difficult sol for Spirit. An uplink configuration error prevented the sequence load from successfully getting on board the rover. Rover controllers took advantage of the down day by deleting afternoon communication sessions and enabling the rover to charge its battery during a long afternoon nap.

It was back to business as usual on sol 120. Before embarking on its drive, Spirit imaged a rock called "Tulula" with the panoramic camera. The rover then successfully executed a blind drive before using the autonomous navigation system to continue into uncharted territory. After reaching the time-of-day driving limit, Spirit turned and performed penultimate (next to last stop) imaging. The next move would have taken the rover 85 centimeters (33.5 inches) to its ultimate stopping point, but did not execute because Spirit was facing a small sand ridge that was perceived as a hazard. Without a penultimate/ultimate image pair, rover controllers could not be sure that the area underneath the rover was clear of hazards for instrument arm deployment. As a result, Sol 121 will be another driving sol that controllers hope will place Spirit in a suitable location to use the instruments on its instrument deployment device.

Opportunity continues to gaze at the incredible "Endurance Crater" from its vantage point on the western rim. Remote sensing, including gathering of imagery of two potential traverse targets just inside the northern edge and southwestern edge of the crater, will continue on the rover's 100th sol.

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2004
NASA unveiled a dramatic image from the Opportunity Mars rover today, a color panorama looking into a 30-foot-deep, football field-wide crater showing cliffs of exposed bedrock that may help unlock the geologic history of the region. Read our full story.

MONDAY, MAY 3, 2004
On Sol 114, which ended at 9:49 a.m. April 29 PDT, Spirit performed a lot of science activities in the trench called "Big Hole" using the microscopic imager, Moessbauer spectrometer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. Opportunity also studied the rover tracks and the crater rim.

Sol 116 started with a repeat of the microscopic imaging of a target in the trench due to minor communication glitches on sol 115. Spirit then stowed the arm, backed away from Big Hole trench, and took panoramic camera images of the trench before it continued on its trek toward the Columbia Hills. The drive on sol 116, which ended at 11:08 a.m. May 1 PDT, established a new drive record of 90.8 meters (298 feet) for Spirit!

On sol 117, which ended at 11:47 a.m. May 2, Spirit drove 37 meters (121 feet) to a small ridge, where the vehicle experienced a pitch up of 12.2 degrees. Engineers believe that the change in tilt caused the vehicle to recompute its "goodness map," which helps the rover autonomously drive over the martian terrain, and the rover declared that it was not safe to continue its drive. One good thing that came out of this is that the end-of-drive tilt positioned the solar arrays to maximize afternoon solar exposure, and the rover's battery state of charge is in good health.

After a 50-meter (164-foot) drive on sol 94, which ended at 10:10 p.m. April 29 PDT, and the final approach of 17 meters (56 feet) on sol 95, which ended at 10:49 p.m. April 30 PDT, Opportunity arrived on the western rim of "Endurance Crater" and began surveying the spectacular new view.

Opportunity sits about half a meter (1.6 feet) outside the edge of the crater with a positive pitch of 4.7 degrees, meaning the rover is slightly tilted with its head up. The western side of the crater rim slopes down in front of Opportunity with an angle of about 18 degrees for about 17 meters (56 feet).

Sols 96 and 97, which ended at 11:29 p.m. May 1 PDT, and 12:08 a.m. May 3 PDT respectively, focused on remote sensing of Endurance Crater and the interesting features in and around it.

All systems are healthy and Opportunity's batteries are near a full state of charge.

The plan for sols 98 and 99, which end at 12:48 a.m. May 4 PDT and 1:28 a.m. May 5 PDT respectively, is to take advantage of Opportunity's current vantage point and take high-resolution miniature thermal emission spectrometer readings of the far crater wall.

FRIDAY, APRIL 30, 2004
Spirit took it easy the morning of sol 112, which ended at 8:30 a. m. PDT on April 27, , and didn't begin operations until 11:45 a.m. Mars Local Solar time, to conserve energy for an afternoon drive. Before taking off, Spirit gathered some soil and atmospheric observations with the mini thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera.

Then the drive began. Spirit's updated autonomous navigation software proved its worth again this sol. During a long auto-navigation segment, the rover encountered a hazard and was able to back up and find a way around it. Spirit continued to drive backwards towards its intended goal point, using the rear hazard avoidance cameras to navigate the way. When the allotted drive time was up, Spirit turned back around and made one last short drive to its resting place for the night. Spirit's odometer records backwards and forwards driving and logged another 88.6 meters (290.7 feet) for the sol 112 drive. The actual distance covered was about 60 meters (197 feet).

On Sol 113, which ended at 9:09 a.m. PDT on April 28, Spirit woke up earlier than normal, 9:00 a.m. Mars Local Solar time, to do morning atmospheric science. One objective of the early sky scan was to image morning clouds with the panoramic camera. Spirit then began an intense study of a soil spot called "MayFly." During her examination of the area, Spirit took panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer images in parallel, conducted a two-hour Moessbauer integration and finished off with a look through the microscopic imager. The rover then stowed the instrument arm to prepare for digging a trench.

Rover planners intended for Spirit to use its wheels to dig a trench at the MayFly spot, but hazard avoidance camera images of the area showed a potato-size rock that could have potentially fallen into the wheel hollow in the process. Rather than take that risk, controllers decided to back the rover up 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) to a clearer spot. After the final positioning, Spirit used its wheels to dig a 6-centimeter (2.4-inch) trench. Spirit finished the sol with hazard avoidance camera images of the trench, which was used to plan Moessbauer, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and microscopic imager work on sol 114.

On sol 114, which ended at 9:49 a.m. PDT on April 29, 2004 Spirit continued to investigate the trenched area with the Moessbauer spectrometer, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the microscopic imager.

THURSDAY, APRIL 29, 2004
Opportunity spent sols 92 and 93, which ended at 8:51 p.m. PDT on April 27 and 9:30 p.m. PDT on April 28 respectively, edging its way closer to "Endurance Crater." A total drive of 106 meters (347.8 feet) left the rover just 70 meters (229.7 feet) from the rim.

The pattern for these two sols has been to take pre- and post-drive remote sensing observations and imaging in the crater direction between midday energy-conserving naps.

By sol 95, Opportunity will make the final approach to Endurance Crater.    

TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2004
After a successful weekend of driving on sols 108 and 109, Spirit kicked off its week with a 140-meter (459.3 feet) drive over sols 110 and 111 toward its destination at the base of the "Columbia Hills."

Spirit began sol 110, which ended at 7:10 a.m. PDT on April 25, 2004, with a stretch of its "arm" to take microscopic imager pictures of an area of soil called "Waffle Flats." It then placed the Moessbauer spectrometer instrument on that spot for a 90-minute integration. Spirit did double-duty and was able to get panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer images of the area for localization and science purposes while the Moessbauer was at work.

Spirit then stowed its instrument deployment device and began an 80-meter (262.5 feet) drive, half of it directed by rover planners and half using the autonomous navigation software. During the autonomous navigation portion, the rover detected a hazard and did not complete the final short-drive intended at the end of the journey. Images from the front hazard avoidance camera show no sign of a hazard, leaving rover controllers with a bit of a mystery to investigate.

Following the drive, Spirit took panoramic camera and navigation camera images in the drive direction and performed atmospheric science with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 111, which ended at 7:50 a.m. PDT on April 26, 2004, was also a sol full of driving for Spirit. After acquiring panoramic camera images of its surroundings and completing atmospheric science with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer, the rover began its drive.

Spirit successfully completed a 60.8-meter (199.5 feet) drive toward the Columbia Hills and then acquired navigation and panoramic camera images of the driving direction. Spirit ended the day with mini thermal emission spectrometer observations of the soil and then a coordinated mini thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera study of the atmosphere.    

With 811.57 meters (a little over one half of one mile) on its odometer, 12,429 images downloaded and a record for the longest one-sol drive under its belt, Opportunity completed its prime mission. Finishing 90 sols of surface operations since landing day marked completion of the last of the official success criteria for Opportunity's prime mission.

On sol 90, the rover continued with the multi-sol panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission plains photometry observations. The alpha particle X-ray spectrometer was busy collecting data on the soil targets "Nougat" and "Fred Ripple."

On sol 91, Opportunity completed more remote sensing and took a Moessbauer spectrometer read on Fred Ripple. The rest of the sol was spent driving. A 40-meter (131.2 feet) drive in the southeasterly direction left Opportunity only 160 meters (about 525 feet) from the rim of "Endurance Crater."

SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2004
On Opportunity's 88th sol, which ended at 6:12 p.m. PDT on April 23, the rover team decided that although "Fram Crater" was an intriguing depression, the potential hazards and the time involved in investigating it made it more of a tour stop than a destination.

With the goal of "Endurance Crater" in mind, the rover finished its investigation of the rock called "Pilbara." A final Moessbauer spectrometer measurement was taken, and then the miniature thermal emission spectrometer studied the recently carved rock abrasion tool hole.

The rover then successfully drove out onto the nearby plains for a photometry experiment (measurement of light detectable by the human eye). The 33-meter (about 108 feet) south-easterly drive ended with a front wheel "scuff" mark in the soil.

On the rover's 89th sol, which ended at 6:52 p.m. PDT on April 24, the microscopic imager photographed a soil target called "Nougat" within the scuff. A Moessbauer spectrometer reading of the target followed.

The photometry experiment continued on this sol along with miniature thermal emission spectrometer remote sensing.

FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2004
Opportunity spent its 87th sol, which ended at 5:33 p.m. PDT on April 22, gathering compositional information from the depression ground into "Pilbara" on sol 86. The Moessbauer spectrometer examined the hole before the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer was placed there. The microscopic imager shot close-ups of Pilbara's new impression.

Data were also gathered by the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

This set of activities should nearly complete a very detailed look at representative rocks and soil from "Fram Crater," which can then be compared to the "Eagle Crater" rocks and soils.

Opportunity's 86th sol, which ended at 4:53 p.m. PDT on April 21, was another record-breaker! A nearly two-and-a-half hour grind produced an impressive 7.2 millimeter (about 0.28 inches) hole in the rock called "Pilbara."

The plan for the rest of the sol called for placing the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the new impression to determine the elemental composition of the exposed area. It was determined, however, that the rover position would not allow for a safe integration of the instrument. Rover planners amended the plan for the sol so the rover would back up and reposition itself for a safe placement of the spectrometer after the rock abrasion tool completed the grind.

On sol 87 the rover will analyze the rock abrasion tool hole with the alpha particle X-ray and Moessbauer spectrometers.    

Spirit spent most of sol 106, which ended at 4:32 a.m. PDT on April 21, performing remote sensing on the inside of "Missoula Crater." It acquired panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer panoramas and navigation camera images of the crater, along with some panoramic camera images looking back toward "Bonneville" crater.

On the morning of sol 107, which ended at 5:12 a.m. PDT on April 22, Spirit got some atmospheric and cloud observations with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer. The rover then took a look with the panoramic camera at three targets called "Gratteri Piazza," "Wallula Gap," and "Clark Fork." Finally it was time to drive. Spirit completed a 73.8-meter (242-feet) traverse that included a jog around a sandy hollow to the east of Missoula. Most of the drive was in the southeast direction on course to the "Columbia Hills." After the drive, Spirit acquired additional panoramic camera and navigation camera observations. The total odometry at the end of sol 107 was 976.77 meters (.6 miles).

Spirit continued driving toward the Columbia Hills on sol 108, which ended at 5:51 a.m. PDT on April 23, and will drive some more on sol 109, which ends at 6:31 a.m. on April 24.

The wakeup song on sol 109 was "(Take me) Riding in my Car" by Woodie Guthrie.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2004
Opportunity got an up-close look at the rocky nature of "Fram Crater" as it approached the crater on sol 85, which ended at 4:13 p.m. PDT on April 20. After some morning remote sensing, the rover drove to the target rock dubbed "Pilbara," near the crater rim.

The wake-up song was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game!" by Jack Norworth in honor of all the baseball-related target names chosen this sol.

Plans called for Opportunity to grind into Pilbara with its rock abrasion tool on sol 86.

MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2004
Opportunity began sol 84, which ended at 3:34 p.m. PST on April 19, with some remote sensing observations and analysis with the microscopic imager and Moessbauer spectrometer. At 13:13 Mars Local Solar time, Opportunity began a 25-meter (82 feet) drive toward "Fram Crater," taking images of its surroundings on the way. At the conclusion of the drive the rover acquired more remote sensing.

Opportunity will spend sol 85, which ends at 4:13 p.m. PST on April 20, 2004, using the instruments on its instrument deployment device to investigate a rock target at Fram Crater.

Spirit had a busy weekend, culminating with a 75-meter (246-feet) drive toward "Missoula Crater" on sol 103, which ended at 2:33 a.m. PST on April 18. The sol before the drive, Sol 102, which ended at 1:54 a.m. on April 17, was an easier day for Spirit. Its main objectives were to use the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer to acquire photometric and atmospheric measurements.

Before beginning the drive on sol 103, Spirit took panoramic camera images to help planners localize the rover during the long traverse. It then used the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer to take a look back at the wheel tracks. Once this information was onboard, the rover began to drive.

Rover controllers planned the first 37 meters (121.4 feet) of the drive, but Spirit used the updated autonomous navigation software to see it through the remaining 38 meters (124.7 feet). Between the two drives, Sprit imaged its surroundings with the panoramic and navigation cameras for context. At the end of the 75-meter (246-feet) drive, Spirit rested a mere 40 meters (131.2 feet) from its destination at the rim of "Missoula Crater." From that spot, it took mini thermal emission spectrometer observations of the sky and ground along with panoramic and navigation camera images to plan the next drive.

Sol 104, which ended at 3:13 a.m. PST on April 19, was a remote sensing day for Spirit. It included a search for dust devils and panoramic camera imaging of Mars' moon Phobos as it transits across the sun and sets.

SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2004
Three days after switching to new software with mobility-enhancing features, NASA's Opportunity shattered the record for a single day's driving on Mars. The rover covered 140.9 maters (462 feet) during its 82nd sol on Mars, ending at 2:15 p.m. PDT, Saturday, May 17. That is about 40 meters farther than either the best previous one-day drive, by Opportunity two weeks ago, or the total distance covered by NASA's smaller Sojourner rover during its entire three-month mission in 1997.

The first 55 meters (180 feet) was done as a "blind" guided drive based on images acquired previously. Speed during that session averaged 120 meters (394 feet) per hour. For the rest, Opportunity used autonomous navigation, watching for obstacles, choosing its own path, and averaging 40 meters (131 feet) per hour. After the drive, the rover took forward-looking images for planning the next drive.

On the previous martian day, sol 81, Opportunity awoke with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on a soil target called "Beagle Burrow" inside a trench the rover had dug on sol 73. The rover removed the instrument arm, stowed it, then backed up to image the trench before driving toward a crater nicknamed "Fram Crater." Opportunity then completed a 7.5-meter (24.6-foot) drive to a trough to image a rock outcrop within it with the panoramic camera. After a bit of guided driving, the rover set out using its autonomous navigation. The sol 81 drive totaled more than 40 meters (131 feet).

Nearly reaching the second of four waypoints on the way to Fram Crater, the rover imaged its new surroundings to identify any future driving hazards. An afternoon nap preceded sol 81's final science session, atmospheric observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and the panoramic camera.

Rover controllers devoted sol 82 to driving after some morning atmospheric observations and a quick look back with the panoramic camera. The record-setting run took three hours -- a good time for a marathon. It brought Opportunity to within about 90 meters (295 feet) of Fram Crater. It also took Opportunity over the 600-meter threshold, a criterion that had been set for at least one of the Mars Exploration Rovers to achieve in order for the mission to be called a success. Opportunity has now traveled 627.7 meters (0.39 mile). Spirit passed the 600-meter threshold two weeks ago.

Rover wake-up music for sol 82 was "I Would Walk 500 Miles," by Less Than Jake (originally by the Proclaimers).

For sol 83, ending at 2:54 p.m. PDT, Sunday, April 18, another drive day is planned for Opportunity, with a goal of getting the rover close to Fram Crater. Scientists then plan to use Opportunity for some investigations of that location.

FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2004
With 100 sols under her belt and 706.5 meters (.44 miles) on her odometer, Spirit keeps on roving toward the Columbia Hills.

Spirit began sol 100, which ended at 12:35 a.m. PDT, on April 15, 2004, by closing the doors on the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, stowing the robotic arm and backing up from the rock called "Route 66" in preparation for an afternoon drive. Before taking off, Spirit used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to examine a patch of Route 66's surface that had been scrubbed in a daisy-shaped mosaic of brushings by the rock abrasion tool. In the early martian afternoon, the rover began a 64-meter (210 feet) drive, Spirit's longest one-sol drive so far. The final 24 meters (78.7 feet) of the drive were navigated with the enhanced autonomous navigation capabilities of Spirit's newly uploaded software. The new software has nearly doubled the meters-per-hour rate to 32 (105 feet-per-hour).

After the traverse, Spirit completed post-drive imaging and used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer on sky and ground targets.

Sol 101, which will end at 1:14 a.m. PDT on April 16, 2004, will be a remote science and driving sol for Spirit as she continues to make her way toward the Columbia Hills.

Opportunity spent sol 80, which ended at 12:55 p.m. PDT on April 15, examining the trench it dug on sol 73. The rover's microscopic imager got close-up views of the targets called "Jeff's Choice," "RipX," "Jack Russell," "Beagle Burrow" and "NewRipX" in the trench.

The navigation and panoramic cameras shot images in Opportunity's drive direction toward "Endurance Crater."

The rover's spectrometers gathered data at several of the soil targets. Atmospheric data was collected by the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera.

In the coming sols, Opportunity will make its way to "Fram Crater," a waypoint on the path to Endurance Crater.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2004
Following the successful flight software updating on sister-craft Spirit, the Opportunity rover has received its own brainpower makeover.

The latest mission control reports:

Waking up to the Ramones' "Teenage Lobotomy," Opportunity began operating with new flight software on its 79th sol on Mars, which ended at 1916 GMT today.

Yestersol, the rover took daytime readings with its Moessbauer spectrometer on "Jeff's Choice" -- a soil target in the tailings of the trench that the vehicle dug on Sol 73. This sol, the rover performed a free-air integration of its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. This procedure measures the effect of the Moessbauer's radiation source on the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer's sensor, allowing the science team to subtract out the Moessbauer influence for an accurate calibration.

In the coming sols, Opportunity will examine the trench with its microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Spirit began Sol 99, which ended at 0655 GMT today, by doing a systematic ground survey with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. After that, the rover completed a six-position brush mosaic on the rock "Route 66" with the rock abrasion tool. Once the brushing was complete, Spirit analyzed the area with the microscopic imager and Moessbauer spectrometer.

The afternoon science for the sol included imaging of rocks called "Back Lot" and "Cameo" with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit took a short nap and woke up for the afternoon Odyssey pass.

During the martian night, Spirit changed from using the Moessbauer spectrometer to using the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 100, which will end at 0735 GMT Thursday, will be a sol full of roving as Spirit continues toward the "Columbia Hills."

Meanwhile, scientists today revealed the true-color panorama, dubbed "Lion King," generated by Opportunity showing Eagle Crater and the vast plains of Meridiani Planum.

This is the largest panorama ever created by the Mars rovers. It was taken in eight segments using six filters per segment, for a total of 558 images and more than 75 megabytes of data. Additional lower elevation tiers were added to ensure that the entire crater was covered in the mosaic.

This panorama depicts a story of exploration including the rover's lander, a thorough examination of the outcrop, a study of the soils at the near-side of the lander, a successful exit from Eagle Crater and finally the rover's next destination, the large crater dubbed "Endurance."

You can see the panorama here. A very large version can be downloaded here.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 2004
The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has successfully undergone the software overhaul and is ready to resume its mission at Gusev Crater.

On Sol 98, which ended at 0536 GMT today, Spirit woke up to the song "Where Is My Mind?" by The Pixies in honor of its software transplant. The good news is that Spirit's "mind" is updated and operating as expected.

Controllers gave the go to reboot the rover's computer, which would then run the new software during the morning of sol 98. The command was sent, and a little over a half hour later, engineers saw the carrier beep that indicated that the command was received. Spirit went to sleep for several minutes after that, and then woke up, rebooting into the new software. It then initiated a high-gain antenna session at 12:30 p.m. Mars Local Solar time, and engineers saw that the new version of the rover software was running properly.

After confirmation that the new software was running as expected, engineers ran some clean-up activities and breathed a sigh of satisfaction.

The new software provides several improvements. It enhances the rovers' mobility, and should allow Spirit to go much farther each sol by reducing how often it has to take images and generate new three-dimensional maps. A deep-sleep mode has been added, mainly to resolve the heater that is stuck in the "on" position on the Opportunity rover. However, someday Spirit may find a use for this mode as well. The new software also mitigates the memory problem Spirit had on sol 18, and seems to be making a difference already. Spirit's unallocated memory jumped from 2.0 megabytes to 3.3 megabytes after the new software compacted the flash directories when it booted.

It's back to regular operations for Spirit on sol 99, ending at 0615 GMT on Wednesday, brushing a six-spot mosaic on the rock target "Route 66." Spirit will then take microscopic imager images and spectrometer measurements before the sol is complete.

MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2004
Opportunity began a four-sol stand-down on sol 75, which ended at 1358 GMT on April 9. During this time, the rover will receive a flight software update that should make its remaining martian days even safer and more productive. The upload will run through sol 78 with a rover re-boot on sol 79, Tuesday, April 13.

Opportunity is currently parked near the trench it dug on its 73rd martain sol. It will remain there for the duration of the flight software update. To keep the battery charge high, engineers are not planning to integrate the rover spectrometers on a target in the trailings of the trench during the flight software update

The flight software update package includes three key changes. First is an update to the autonomous navigation software that will allow both rovers to travel longer distances autonomously. The current autonomous navigation software sometimes gets stuck when it detects a hazard that it can't navigate around. The new version will allow the rovers to turn in place to find the best possible path.

The second part of the flight software update will allow the rovers to recover more easily from an anomaly like the one that occurred on Spirit's sol 18. Although operational processes and software have already been updated to prevent something like this from ever happening again, engineers have included additional safety nets in the software that would allow the rovers to autonomously react to a similar anomaly and recover to a more stable state.

The third portion of the update is specific to Opportunity and is intended to mitigate against energy loss associated with the stuck heater on Opportunity's instrument deployment device. The fix allows rover planners to put the rover in a deep sleep mode, where the batteries are totally removed from being able to power the stuck switch. Therefore, with no power reaching the stuck heater switch, the Opportunity rover battery will not be drained. Rover controllers will not initiate the deep sleep capability on Spirit unless it becomes necessary.

FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 2004
This is the latest report from mission controllers:

Spirit began a four-sol stand-down on sol 94, which ended at 0337 GMT on April 9. During this time, the rover will receive a flight software update that should make its remaining martian days even safer and more productive. The upload will run through sol 97 with a rover re-boot on sol 98, Monday, April 12. Opportunity will be receiving the same update package in upcoming sols.

Spirit is currently parked in front of the rock called "Route 66," and will remain there for the duration of the flight software update, with the Moessbauer spectrometer integrating on the rock, and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer pointed up to the sky.

The flight software update package includes three key changes. First is an update to the autonomous navigation software that will allow Spirit to travel longer distances autonomously over the extremely rocky Gusev Crater terrain. The current autonomous navigation software sometimes gets stuck when it detects a hazard that it can't navigate around. The new version will allow Spirit to turn in place to find the best possible path.

The second part of the flight software update will allow Spirit to recover more easily from an anomaly like the one that occurred on sol 18. Although operational processes and software have already been updated to prevent something like this from ever happening again, engineers have included additional safety nets in the software that would allow the rover to autonomously react to a similar anomaly and recover to a more stable state.

The third portion of the update is specific to Opportunity and is intended to mitigate against energy loss associated with the stuck heater on Opportunity's instrument deployment device. The fix allows rover planners to put the rover in a deep sleep mode, where the batteries are totally removed from being able to power the stuck switch. Therefore, with no power reaching the stuck heater switch, the Opportunity rover battery will not be drained. Rover controllers will not initiate the deep sleep capability on Spirit unless it becomes necessary.

THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 2004
NASA has approved an extended mission for the Mars Exploration Rovers, handing them up to five months of overtime assignments as they finish their three-month prime mission. Read full story.

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Spirit began sol 93, which ended at 7:57 p.m. PST on April 7, by heating the high gain antenna. Spirit then took some calibration measurements and navigation camera imaging of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer's placement on the magnet.

Around 10:30 a.m. Mars Local Solar time, Spirit moved its instrument deployment device out of the way to take hazard avoidance camera images of the rock target called "Route 66." The rover then operated the Moessbauer spectrometer for a four-hour integration. During the integration, Spirit captured its current location with a panoramic camera mosaic toward the "Columbia Hills" and the rover tracks.

After a short nap, Spirit took mini thermal emission spectrometer observations of the rover tracks, and rock targets called "Everest" and "Pisa." The rover completed the Moessbauer integration and then placed it on Route 66 with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer pointed up to the sky. The instrument deployment device will remain in this position during the flight software load time period, allowing for long integrations of the Moessbauer on Route 66 and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the sky.

Sol 94, which ends at 8:37 p.m. PST on April 8, will be the beginning of the four-sol flight software upload. Before rover operators begin loading the updated software, they will command Spirit to perform a sunrise imaging operation. The flight software update will continue through sol 97 with a rover reboot on sol 98, Monday April 12.

Opportunity was on the move again on sol 73, which ended at 7:39 a.m. PST on April7. The rover toured and examined the trough remotely.

Opportunity woke up to "Let the Good Times Roll" by B.B. King - a nod to Spirit's successful primary mission of 91 sols and a call for more good times during the coming sols.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2004
Spirit awoke on sol 92, which ended at 7:18 p.m. PST on April 6, and completed some early morning panoramic camera sky and ground measurements. Spirit also took a look at the capture and filter magnets with the panoramic camera prior to taking a short mid-morning nap. Upon wake-up around 12:30 p.m. Mars Local Solar Time, the rover opened the doors on the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and took 3 images of each magnet. Spirit also placed the Moessbauer spectrometer on the capture magnet and began an integration.

In the afternoon, Spirit completed coordinated observations with the thermal emission spectrometer instrument on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. The observations involved miniature thermal emission spectrometer pre-flight, simultaneous, and post-flight sky and ground measurements. Spirit also collected a panoramic camera opacity observation.

Early on Sol 93, which ends at 7:57 p.m. on April 7, the rover will switch the instruments on its instrument deployment device from the Moessbauer spectrometer to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. Sol 93 is the last day for newly planned science observations, as Spirit will be getting a flight software update during sols 94-98.

"The Wanderer" by Dion and the Belmonts woke Opportunity on its 72nd sol, which ended at 7:39 a.m. PST on April 7. The rover drove around the sinuous trough in a long dogleg pattern. Remote sensing to examine the crevice was conducted on the 50-meter (164 feet) drive to its ultimate position for the sol, at the northeast extreme of "Anatolia."

On sol 73, the rover will perform a trenching operation in the soil. During the following sol, the instrument's arm will be placed on the trenched area.

The planned flight software upload will begin on Opportunity's 75th sol.

TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2004
Opportunity "dashed" away from the rim of its "Eagle Crater" landing-site on sol 70, which ended at 6:20 a.m. PST on April 5. The roughly 100-meter (about 328 feet) drive led the rover to a target area dubbed "Anatolia," along a sinuous crack in the plains of Meridiani Planum defined by deep impressions in the sand sprinkled with Eagle Crater-like rocks. In the coming sols Opportunity will further investigate the rocks in this "mini-outcrop."

Before leaving the vicinity of Eagle Crater, Opportunity performed a maneuver on "Bounce" rock lightheartedly called "crush and go" by the rover engineers. In order to gather further information about the rock's hardness, the intentional drive over Bounce was an attempt to fracture it. The science team is awaiting images from the rover's rear hazard avoidance camera to see the results.

An appropriate tune - "Truckin'" by The Greatful Dead - woke Opportunity this sol.

MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2004
Spirit woke up on sol 91, which ended at 6:38 p.m. PDT on April 5, 2004, as if it were any other martian day, but this one was special. Finishing 90 sols of surface operations since landing day marked completion of the last of the official success criteria for Spirit's prime mission. The rover team at JPL had checked off the next-to-last box for mission success two days earlier, when a drive of 50.2 meters (165 feet) took Spirit's total travel distance over the 600-meter (1,969 feet) mark.

The martian day for sol 91 started with some remote sensing observations of the sky and ground as well as navigation camera images of the landscape to the east. Then the rover completed miniature thermal emission spectrometer ground surveys and imaged the sky and ground with the panoramic camera. After a short nap, Spirit acquired some pre-drive imaging including a super-spectral look at an interesting spot in front of the rover.

Early in the martian afternoon, Spirit began a 1.35-meter (4.4-foot) drive to get closer to a rock called "Route 66." Once the drive was finished, the rover analyzed the instrument deployment device's work volume with hazard-avoidance camera images and a stare by the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. A quick adjustment of 0.8 meters (2.6 feet) put the rover in perfect position and completed the drive.

Spirit spent the afternoon taking a systematic soil survey with the panoramic camera, a 13-filter image of the destination informally named "Columbia Hills," and acquiring miniature thermal emission spectrometer data of the same locations.

Spirit will spend sol 92, which will end at 7:18 p.m. PDT on April 6, 2004, analyzing its capture magnet and filter magnet with its Moessbauer spectrometer and microscopic imager. The rover will also complete coordinated observations with the Mars Global Surveyor and switch tools to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for an overnight measurement.

Over the weekend, Opportunity completed its observations at "Bounce Rock" rock and prepared for its trek toward "Endurance Crater."

On sol 68, which ended at 4:00 a.m. PST on April 3, the rover backed away from Bounce, then re-approached the rock in preparation for an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer read on the right side of it. The wake-up tune chosen for the sol was "Got to Go Back" by Van Morrison.

Opportunity made observations with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer during the martian morning. Then it took set of microscope images before backing away from the rock. More images were taken from that vantage point before Opportunity made a 10-degree turn in place and drove the 0.85 meters (2.8 feet) back to Bounce.

On sol 69, which ended at 5:40 a.m. PST on April 4, Opportunity completed its instrument arm work on Bounce. It also examined soil targets with its microscopic imager and Moessbauer spectrometer. The wake-up song for the sol was "Little Maggie" by Tom Adams, chosen for the soil target named "Maggie."

In coming sols Opportunity will make progress in a 750-meter (nearly a half mile) drive to Endurance Crater. The rover team plans to make pit stops along the way at scientifically interesting sites and will pause other activities for a few sols while the rover gets new flight software.

FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 2004
Spirit spent most of Sol 88, which ended at 3:39 p.m. PST on April 2, driving toward the "Columbia Hills." Before beginning the drive, Spirit acquired some pre-drive remote sensing, which included panoramic camera photometry and a mini thermal emission spectrometer stare of the rock called "Carlsbad."

Spirit then began the 35-meter (114.8 feet) combination directed and autonomous navigation drive down the rocky, ejecta-covered side of "Bonneville Crater." Fifteen meters (49.2 feet) of the drive were directed by rover planners and did not require the rover to use its hazard avoidance software. The remaining 20 meters (65.6 feet) were navigated by Spirit autonomously and did cause the rover to make some back and forth adjustments as it avoided what it perceived to be a depression hazard in its path. Rover controllers will look at hazard avoidance camera images tomorrow to confirm the details of Spirit's behavior.

Spirit will begin Sol 89, which ends at 4:19 p.m. PST on April 3, using the instrument deployment device on a rock target in front of it, followed by another drive toward the Columbia Hills.

In recognition of changing the instruments on its arm nine times, David Bowie's "Changes" woke Opportunity on its 67th sol on Mars, which ended at 3:21 a.m. PST on April 2.

The rover continued to examine "Bounce" with the microscopic imager and the Moessbauer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometers.

During the martian morning, the Moessbauer spectrometer was turned off before atmospheric science was conducted with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and the panoramic camera.

The afternoon hours were dedicated to intensive study of a handful of targets on Bounce, including the impression ground by the rock abrasion tool on sol 66.

Opportunity will continue to investigate Bounce for the next two sols and then begin its journey toward "Endurance Crater."    

THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2004
Opportunity's rock abrasion tool ground into "Bounce" for just over two hours, producing a 6.44-millimeter (0.25 inch) hole that will allow the rover's spectrometer's to analyze the rock's chemical composition.

Bon Jovi's "Bounce" woke Opportunity on its 66th sol, which ended at 2:41 a.m. PST on April 1. The martian morning began with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer observing a target called "Glanz2" on Bounce. Miniature thermal emission spectrometer measurements of the ground and sky followed.

The rock abrasion tool was then placed on the target dubbed "Case." After the grind, the Moessbauer spectrometer was placed on the hole for an overnight integration.

In the afternoon, the rover also had time to complete more atmospheric science with its panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

In the coming sols, Opportunity will remain parked at the intriguing Bounce rock to continue its investigations.

Spirit began sol 87, which ended at 3:00 p.m. PST on April 1, with some morning atmospheric science, and then took a last look at the rock "Mazatzal" with the panoramic and navigation cameras. Then the rover was off, traveling 36.5 meters (119.8 feet) down the side of "Bonneville" Crater headed south toward the "Columbia Hills."

The drive was a combination of "blind" and autonomous navigation roving. The blind segments of the drive are used when rover planners can see all possible hazards and command the rover to just "go." The autonomous navigation portion allows the rover to make decisions based on the terrain presented. While the blind segments of the sol 87 drive were successful, the second to the last autonomous navigation sequence did not complete in the allotted time, causing a drive "goal" error. As a result, Spirit was not able to execute the complete commanded drive, and roved 36.5 meters (119.8 feet) of the 65-meter (213.3 feet) planned drive.

Following the drive, Spirit took navigation and panoramic camera pictures in her drive direction and performed atmospheric and soil science with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer.

Spirit will spend most of sol 88, which ends at 3:39 p.m. PST on April 2, driving toward the Columbia Hills.

Read our earlier Mission Status Center coverage.

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