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Space

SLUG: 2-312622 Mars Rovers (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=2/2/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=MARS ROVERS (L)

NUMBER=2-312622

BYLINE=DAVID McALARY

DATELINE=WASHINGTON

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: The troubled U-S Mars rover "Spirit" is healthy again after the repair of its computer. As V-O-A's David McAlary reports from Washington, the six-wheeled vehicle is finally resuming science operations that were halted almost two weeks ago.

TEXT: Spirit arrived at Mars one month ago, but a computer memory overload interrupted its operations less than three weeks later.

Engineers have been busy deleting hundreds of data files accumulated since its June launch. They are ready to reformat Spirit's memory with a clean version of the flight software and restart the computer.

/// TROSPER ACT ///

It's a great day. It was a great weekend on Spirit and we have two operational rovers on the surface of Mars again.

/// END ACT ///

This is mission manager Jennifer Trosper. She says that while technicians finish restoring Spirit's computer, the rover is beginning to acquire data on a nearby rock named Adirondack at which it was aiming when it broke down.

/// 2nd TROSPER ACT ///

Today we are doing science on Spirit just like we were.

/// END ACT ///

Spirit and its twin rover Opportunity on the other side of Mars are seeking geologic evidence that Mars once had liquid water that could have supported life.

Ms. Trosper says Spirit's operators are extending its instrument arm to brush the Martian dust from Adirondack, get close-up images with its microscope camera, and determine the rock's mineral content with an infrared sensor. She notes that they will use an abrasion tool Tuesday to scratch below its surface before moving on to its next target.

/// 3rd TROSPER ACT ///

As soon as we're done with Adirondack, we are already strategizing on how to drive far and fast with this rover, and that's the next thing.

/// END ACT ///

The Opportunity rover, meanwhile, has finished transmitting a 360-degree color panoramic image of the shallow crater it is in. The camera took it in sections, which researchers pieced together for the full view. Mission scientist Jeff Johnson of the U-S Geological Survey says the picture is extremely sharp and depicts a wide expanse of reddish soil and the crater's bumpy rim.

/// JOHNSON ACT ///

This wonderful 360 [degree] panorama is in stereo and it provides us with a real sense of "you are there" at the site, gives us a feeling for this bowl-shaped depression that we are now in.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Johnson says Opportunity will move next toward an exposure of Martian bedrock sticking through the crater's dark soil. The bedrock is layered, and scientists say each layer tells a story about an event in Mars' history that will help them understand its geologic past in their search for liquid water. (SIGNED)

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