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Blog Archive


JPL begins actively hailing Spirit -- but is trying to manage your expectations (an editorial)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/30 04:29 CDT

Spirit hasn't talked to Earth since March 22 -- so what new information could they have received that would make them pronounce Spirit's possible death? Is there some new analysis of the last bit of telemetry? Some new model indicating Spirit's survival was less likely than previously thought?

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Rests on Big Find, Opportunity Finishes Half-Marathon on Way to Endeavour

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/06/30 12:00 CDT

With winter still freezing the southern hemisphere of Mars, June might have been an uneventful month for your average working robot, but not the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs). In fact, from the sounds of silence to a major discovery to an injury scare, the rovers' latest trials, tribulations and achievements, have turned the last four weeks into something of an emotional roller-coaster for some members of the MER team.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Team Announces Major Water Discovery

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/06/17 12:00 CDT

Mars Exploration Rover Spirit continued to hibernate this month, parked in place near an old volcanic formation called Home Plate. At the same time though she managed to rove back into the planetary exploration spotlight when a group of the mission scientists announced they had found -- in data from an outcrop the rover visited more than four years ago -- evidence for a past watery environment more suitable for life than any other either Spirit or Opportunity have found, a place where near-pure water existed. 1

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Big hunks of carbonate rock on Mars at last

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/06/10 04:33 CDT

Carbonate rocks should be all over Mars. But it's been hard to find carbonates—surprisingly so.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Sleeps through Solstice, Opportunity Cruises Past Viking Record

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/05/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers made it through their fourth winter solstice in what is the coldest, most challenging Martian winter the twin robot field geologists have experienced.

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Is this the eastward turn we've all been waiting for?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/27 07:24 CDT

As I discussed on Monday, Opportunity is in the middle of a lengthy trek toward a crater named Endeavour and its tantalizing upraised smectite-bearing rim.

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The goal of Opportunity's trek

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/24 02:00 CDT

Opportunity's kilometers-long march across the sands of Meridiani Planum is a great story, and the journey is fun to follow; but what could be worth such a long march?

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Opportunity: longest-lived landed Mars mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/19 10:26 CDT

Today is sol 2,246 of Opportunity's mission to Mars; as I write, it's just before 7:00 local solar time. If this sol passes, as her previous 2,245 have done, with Opportunity still alive and speaking to Earth, she will have surpassed a record set on November 12, 1982: Opportunity will pass Viking Lander 1 as the longest-lived landed Mars mission.

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Solstice? What solstice?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/14 08:40 CDT

Thumbing her nose at this whole winter thing, Opportunity drove 20 meters yesterday, sol 2,240, on the winter solstice.

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Happy solstice -- on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/13 04:43 CDT

It's the solstice on Mars today: summer in the north, winter in the south.

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A Martian Moment in Time, revisited

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/12 02:30 CDT

A good start to my day today: The New York Times' Lens Blog featured the "Martian Moment in Time" photo that Opportunity took last week in a really nice writeup. I'm so grateful, and still a little surprised, that the folks on the Mars Exploration Rover mission took this idea and ran with it!

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A moment in time

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/06 05:39 CDT

On Mars, at 15:00 local true solar time on May 2, a solitary rover gazed southward across her own dusty deck and snapped three photos, actually three sets of three photos, which were combined to make this view.

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Space carnival, rover update, Planetary Radio Live!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/03 04:01 CDT

Just a linky post today, as I am nanny-less.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Snoozes Past Viking, Opportunity Snaps Endeavour on Horizon

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/04/30 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers' fourth Martian winter is proving to be the harshest one yet and Spirit and Opportunity are getting colder than ever before. With temperatures on the Red Planet dropping in April and the Martian winter solstice still two weeks away, the season has turned into a shivering nail-biter.

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Spirit: Schrödinger's Rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/28 12:01 CDT

Either Spirit is the longest-lived landed Mars mission ever, or she is not. We won't know for certain unless we manage to observe a radio signal from her.

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Sweet dreams, Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/31 06:48 CDT

Spirit had been communicating on a once-per-week schedule in recent weeks. During the designated time for the rover to communicate with NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter passing overhead on March 30, Odyssey heard nothing from the rover.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Begins Hibernation Probably, Opportunity Roves On to Endeavour Crater

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/03/31 12:00 CDT

March seems to have come in like a lamb and gone out like a lion on the Red Planet this year as the Mars Exploration Rovers trudged deeper into their fourth winter. While Opportunity finished up work at Concepcin Crater and shifted into gear back on the road to Endeavour Crater, Spirit finished up winter preparations and carried out a limited winter agenda before shifting, it appears, into hibernation mode.

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Opportunity's at the twin craters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/27 05:09 CDT

Just a little update here to post a Navcam panorama from Opportunity showing that the rover successfully arrived yesterday at the doublet crater she's been aiming for since she left Concepcion a couple of weeks ago.

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Opportunity at Concepción from orbit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/24 03:01 CDT

I saw this image at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference so am happy they released it: a view of Opportunity sitting on the north rim of the little, fresh Concepción crater, taken on sol 2153 (February 13, 2010).

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LPSC, Day 3: Opportunity, and what the heck is Marquette?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/05 01:40 CST

I wrote earlier about some results from Spirit reported at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas; here are the rest of my notes on rover-related talks, from Opportunity's site on the opposite side of Mars.

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