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News Update Archive

June 2000

Week Ending June 16, 2000

Here's some more Mini-TES data from our tests last month. Last week we showed a Mini-TES image, color-coded to show the mineralogy of the rocks we were looking at. But Mini-TES produces much more than just images. Each "pixel" of a Mini-TES image is actually a complete, detailed infrared spectrum. Click here to see three examples of what Mini-TES data look like when you check them out in detail. And these are just the spectra for three pixels in the image... every other pixel has just as much information in it too. We can get a good idea of what the rocks around the rover are made of with Mini-TES, which lets us decide which ones to go and investigate in more detail with our other instruments. More on that next week...

Week Ending June 9, 2000

Here's some more data from our tests last month. Click here first to see a Pancam image that shows part of the test facility at JPL, with some rock targets in the foreground. Then click in the red box to see a Mini-TES image of of the scene inside the box. For each and every pixel in that Mini-TES image, we have a complete infrared spectrum that tells us about the composition of the rocks. The image has been color-coded, with different colors representing different minerals: blue is hematite, pink is gypsum, orange is calcite, and so forth. We'll use data like this on Mars to figure out what the rocks are made of from a distance, and to decide which ones to go look at in more detail. By the way, that's a person sitting just to the left of the rock target in the Mini-TES image!

Week Ending June 2, 2000

We're continuing to work with the data we collected during the tests we did with the Athena flight instruments last month. Here's the same panorama that we showed last week. It's reduced in resolution by a factor of ten in each direction so that it won't be too enormous to download. In this version, there are some red boxes... click on them to see portions of the panorama at full resolution. The slight speckling you see in some of the images is there because we were running the cameras at high temperatures; that'll be gone at martian temperatures. Now imagine a full martian panorama at this kind of resolution!
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May 2000

Week Ending May 27, 2000

The biggest effort of this past week has been processing all the data that we took during the test of our instruments that we conducted on May 10-12. We've still got a lot more work to do, but the results so far have been pretty spectacular. We'll put a bunch of data up on the site soon, but here's one teaser for now. It's a 360-degree Pancam panorama of the "high bay" -- the big room in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at JPL where we did the tests.

There are still a few odds and ends we need to fix up in this panorama, including mosaicking the frames together nicely so that the seams don't show. But the main thing to note is the resolution: the actual resolution of this image is ten times what's displayed here. That's ten times as much detail both horizontally and vertically, meaning a hundred times as many pixels as you see in this image. That's a lot of detail! More data, including some full-resolution views, will follow shortly.

Week Ending May 20, 2000

Things are going at a furious pace now. We have about seven weeks until the big review at which NASA will decide whether or not we'll fly in 2003. We're doing what seems like a thousand things at once: wrapping up work on the instruments, figuring out what changes we'll need to make to fly on this new rover, and working out how we'll use the rover to do the science we need to do.

The FIDO rover test that finished up this past week has been a huge help in our planning, since it gave us our first good chance to operate a real rover in a real unknown environment. Now that the test is over, we've been told where it was: in the mountains outside of Ely, Nevada. We learned a lot about the geology of the site with the rover, and a lot more about how to use a rover to do exploration.

Week Ending May 6, 2000.

This week was devoted to final preparations for the APEX operations tests on May 10-12. The key event was putting the radioactive sources into the Mössbauer spectrometer. In order to work, the Mössbauer has to carry two tiny flecks of cobalt-57... one deep inside the instrument, and one at the business end of the sensor head that shines gamma rays onto the rock or soil we're studying. Bodo Bernhardt came over from Germany and put the sources in late in the week, so now the Mössbauer's all set. A few tweaks to the Mini-TES software Monday and Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning we should be ready to go.
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April 2000

No mission updates for the month of April, 2000.
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