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Spirit moved!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/01/07 12:24 CST

Hallelujah! For the first time in almost an Earth year, amateur mars mapper Eduardo Tesheiner is able to scratch a tiny little line on his map of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's peregrinations across Gusev Crater.

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I am totally hooked on Scott Maxwell's new Mars Exploration Rover blog

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/01/06 11:57 CST

Scott Maxwell is one of those many guys (and gals) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who rarely gets his name in the news but who is absolutely indispensable to the success of a space mission. I don't know what his official title is, but whatever it is, it's not as good as the colloquial name given to his position: Rover Driver.

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Five Years of Spirit on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/01/02 10:15 CST

On January 3, 2004, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit landed on Mars, and I was with the science team at JPL when it happened! I can't believe it's been five years since the successful landing.

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Another longevity milestone for Spirit and Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/12/29 05:03 CST

We're getting close to the fifth anniversary of the landings of Spirit and Opportunity, but was we approach that milestone, we're passing another. I've been told that as of yesterday, Spirit and Opportunity have operated on Mars for a combined length of time that is longer than the combined number of sols that the twin Viking landers operated.

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Solar conjunction: Holidays for Mars missions, and an Opportunity update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/11/21 01:09 CST

The period of Mars solar conjunction has just begun, which means that a host of scientists and engineers whose day jobs entail interaction with the five active Mars spacecraft are getting a five-week break from the daily grind of operations.

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Spirit's still there

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/11/13 05:14 CST

I am greatly relieved to report that Spirit did talk to Earth as ordered today, indicating that the rover's power situation did not get so bad that a "low power fault" was triggered. The rover's still following instructions, and is still with us, though the power situation is still critical.

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High dust levels are making life tough for Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/11/11 09:02 CST

There was a worrying update posted on the JPL website for Spirit today: an early-season dust storm has darkened its skies enough that its solar panels produced only 89 watt-hours of power yesterday, sol 1,725. Neither rover has ever, ever seen power production levels that low, not even during last year's massive dust storm.

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Opportunity and Spirit updates: Both are now driving

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/10/31 01:26 CDT

Another day, another drive: on sols 1,693 and 1,695 the Opportunity rover conducted two more lengthy drives to the south, totaling almost 200 meters. On the other side of the planet, Spirit is FINALLY in motion again.

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Opportunity is really hitting the highway

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/10/28 01:10 CDT

Victoria crater, the site of a Mars year's worth of study, is now far over the horizon, as Opportunity has lately completed a series of very long drives. Opportunity is once again sailing the sand seas of Meridiani Planum.

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Long drives at last for Opportunity (or, getting your kicks on sol 1,666)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/10/02 12:41 CDT

It's been way, way, way too long since the view from either rover's cameras has changed very much. So I hope you'll join me in a shout of "woo hoo!" or perhaps "yippee!" as I show you the latest view from Opportunity, from sol 1,666, as automatically composed in Mike Howard's Midnight Mars Browser software.

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Opportunity's got a long road ahead

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/09/19 05:03 CDT

Mars Exploration Rover principal investigator Steve Squyres announced on National Public Radio's Science Friday show the next goal for Opportunity, and it's a long, long, long way away: a huge crater about 12 kilometers southeast of its current location, which the team is referring to internally as "Endeavour."

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Opportunity's ready for a new adventure!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/08/29 03:43 CDT

It's official: Opportunity is out of Victoria. A news release from JPL stated today that Opportunity has, as of late yesterday (sol 1,634), exited Victoria crater.

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Looking back into Victoria crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/08/08 08:00 CDT

Here's another wonderful self-portrait silhouette by Opportunity.

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Danes on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/07/17 08:41 CDT

I was delighted to receive an email from Morten Bo Madsen, who I knew from the Mars Exploration Rover mission as "that Danish magnet guy," the fellow responsible for the magnet experiments on nearly every American Mars mission. The magnets were originally designed to study the properties of airborne Martian dust, which would help determine its composition.

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Opportunity route map update

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/07/09 08:39 CDT

Eduardo Tesheiner was kind enough to send me an updated version of his route map for Opportunity so we can get a sense of just how close the rover is getting to Cape Verde.

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Sands on Earth, Sands on Mars

Posted by Jim Bell on 2008/06/13 01:49 CDT

One of the ways that planetary scientists try to understand the origin and evolution of landforms on other planets is by studying similar kinds of landforms or "analogs" here on the Earth. For the past few days I've been working with a group of colleagues doing just that--specifically, studying dunes in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in order to try to better understand the nature of sand dunes on Mars.

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Some beautiful video from the Spirit and Opportunity landing sites

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/12 06:02 CDT

A majority of the people who work in planetary geology are usually associated with one or maybe two missions, doing all their research on the results from one instrument on one mission. But there are a few people whose expertise cuts across many space missions, and an even smaller number of people who seem to work on almost everything. Randy Kirk is one of those people.

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What's up in the solar system for the week of May 12

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/12 04:01 CDT

It's time to check in on what's going on with our trusty robots around the solar system.

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What's up in the solar system for the week of May 5

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/05 02:46 CDT

Here's what's happening on active planetary missions this week.

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What's up in the solar system for the week of April 28

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/04/28 09:56 CDT

I thought it would be fun to start the week by taking stock of what's going on with all the active planetary missions out there.

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