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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit and Opportunity Wrap Year 4, Ready to Rove into 2008

A.J.S. Rayl • December 31, 2007

The mission was only supposed to last three months, maybe six months if all went well, but the Mars Exploration Rovers surprised everyone. Demonstrating an uncanny kind of "robot right stuff," they roved far beyond what anyone dreamed and now, in a matter of days, Spirit and Opportunity will celebrate their 4th birthdays and rove into their fifth year of exploring the Red Planet.

A dusty start to Spirit's winter

Emily Lakdawalla • December 14, 2007

Dust from the sky has settled on both the rover deck and the surrounding landscape. The dust-covered solar cells will not be able to generate as much power as when they were clean. Unless a puff of wind dusts off the solar panels, Spirit may have difficulty surviving the approaching Martian winter.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Thrashes with Tartarus, Opportunity Wrestles RAT at Victoria's Ring

A.J.S. Rayl • November 30, 2007

Nail-biting drama and the inevitable signs of aging marked the month of November for the Mars Exploration Rovers, with Spirit accidentally encountering Tartarus, a dust-filled crater, on its way to its winter haven and having to thrash for its life, and Opportunity spending a lot of its time conducting tests on its RAT (rock abrasion tool), which lost another encoder.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Homes in on Winter Site as Opportunity Examines Victoria's Ring

A.J.S. Rayl • October 31, 2007

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) logged another major milestone in October as they completed a second Martian year of field geology and now may rove on through 2009.

Wheel tracks

Emily Lakdawalla • October 18, 2007

The Mars Exploration Rovers have left wheel tracks all over their landing sites, but for some reason this pair of wheel tracks, left in the sand ripple on the rim of Victoria crater and now viewed from below, tickled my fancy. Thanks to James Canvin for the lovely panorama.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Slides Across Home Plate as Opportunity Digs in at Victoria Crater

A.J.S. Rayl • September 30, 2007

It might not be the stuff of Broadway musicals, but the Sun and did "come out tomorrow" on Mars. Just eight weeks after dust from severe storms darkened the Martian skies and threatened their solar-powered lives, the Mars Exploration Rovers finished dusting off as much as possible and took off on their long-anticipated expeditions this month, with Spirit roving onto an old volcanic formation called Home Plate and Opportunity cruising into Victoria Crater.

Opportunity takes first gingerly steps into Victoria Crater

Doug Ellison • September 13, 2007

Mars Exploration Rover scientists, engineers and enthusiasts have been playing the waiting game for 10 weeks, watching the much-reported dust storm subside so that Opportunity could get back to doing what it does best - exploring craters.

Skies slowly lightening for Spirit and Opportunity

Emily Lakdawalla • September 07, 2007

I just received another batch of "tau" images from rover camera lead Jim Bell to add to my visualizations of the rovers' dark skies. These pictures provide a direct measurement of the opacity of the atmosphere between the rovers and the Sun.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit and Opportunity Shake Some Dust, Assess Storm Damage, and Return to Exploring

A.J.S. Rayl • August 31, 2007

With dust from the summer's storms floating down on and all around them, the Mars Exploration Rovers returned to their exploration agendas this month, picking up right where they left off in July when winds kicked the soils up into the southern hemisphere and forced them to hunker down and conserve power.

Dust storm update: A rover's-eye-view

Emily Lakdawalla • August 29, 2007

I haven't written an update on the dust storm at Mars recently for two reasons. For one, the rovers are out of immediate danger, so it wasn't as urgent. The other reason is that Jim Bell wanted Cornell to issue a press release with updated versions of the images and animations I've been putting together from the rovers' "tau" images.

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