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Shadows cast from Victoria's capes and bays

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/04/14 03:51 CDT

This is from the "just plain cool" department: An animation of the shadows of Victoria Crater as seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, courtesy of Doug Ellison.

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Mars Budget Cuts

Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2008/03/24 07:20 CDT

Exploring another planet is an expensive business. We all know this, but sometimes it hits home harder than others. Today was one of those times.

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Spirit, seen from space

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/03/24 05:46 CDT

The HiRISE instrument on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter really is a spy camera in space. Check out this sequence of nine images from the HiRISE archives, which Doug Ellison pulled together into an animation covering more than a year of Spirit's mission.

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LPSC: Thursday: Rovers, Titan, Mars, Venus Express, Neptune

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2008/03/14 03:49 CDT

I spent a large portion of the day at the Lunar and Planetary Institute's library and presented my own poster during the poster sessions, so my coverage of Thursday's sessions is limited.

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Opportunity watches the clouds drift by

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/02/12 04:11 CST

Opportunity is now following a rather leisurely autumn schedule, according to the latest update on the mission website. Some of the work Opportunity is doing involves staring skyward, looking for patterns in the clouds that pass overhead at this time of year. One of the guys at unmannedspaceflight.com has put together some nifty animations of the wispy cloud patterns.

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Teeny little Bigfoot on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/01/23 01:41 CST | 3 comments

The story of a Sasquatch-shaped rock visible in a recent panorama from Spirit is getting a lot of play in the mainstream media, but fortunately, it's not being taken very seriously. (My favorite take on this picture is the lead from the Times Online story about it: "Is it a rock? A trick of Martian light on the eye? Or Osama Bin Laden waving from his barren hideout 300 million miles from planet Earth?")

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A dusty start to Spirit's winter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/12/14 05:35 CST

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.

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Wheel tracks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/10/18 04:07 CDT

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.

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Opportunity takes first gingerly steps into Victoria Crater

Posted by Doug Ellison on 2007/09/13 05:11 CDT

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.

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Skies slowly lightening for Spirit and Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/09/07 05:27 CDT

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/29 05:06 CDT

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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Poised on the threshold of Victoria Crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/29 01:26 CDT

Although Mars' atmosphere continues to be rather dusty, the storm has abated enough that both Mars Exploration Rovers have resumed a relatively normal level of activity. For Opportunity, that means a drive to the very edge of Victoria crater.

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A little good news on the rovers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/08 10:56 CDT

The skies aren't quite as dark as they have been, for both Spirit and Opportunity. In fact, Spirit has enough power now to be doing a little work with its robotic arm.

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"Concern Increasing" for Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/01 08:46 CDT

Yesterday evening the Mars Exploration Rover mission posted an update that states "increasing concern" for the continued health of Opportunity.

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High tau for Spirit and Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/30 12:26 CDT

Over the weekend I fiddled with the "tau" images that Mars Exploration Rover Pancam lead Jim Bell gave me, and I produced a couple of different ways to visualize the darkness of the rovers' skies.

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Dust storm update: rovers still OK

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/27 06:37 CDT

The dust storm continues at Mars, but both rovers continue to be power-positive.

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Mars Exploration Rovers update: Spirit and Opportunity are both still talking to Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/23 05:04 CDT

Both Spirit and Opportunity are still suffering under incredibly dark skies, but, amazingly, they are both "power-positive," meaning that they are managing to produce enough power from the limited amount of sunlight to keep the batteries fully charged.

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The dust storm has brought gloom to Opportunity's skies, but everything is OK

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/10 11:09 CDT

Opportunity has ceased operations for a couple of days because the amount of sunlight available is low due to an unpredicted dust storm.

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Spirit gets brushed off

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/06/19 08:59 CDT

There was great news last night from Mars Exploration Rover mission operations: Spirit seems to have enjoyed another "cleaning event."

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The original "Puddles on Mars" story has been retracted

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/06/12 06:01 CDT

Today, New Scientist and researcher Ron Levin retracted the "puddles on Mars" claim in the face of evidence that the "puddles" were on sloping surfaces. I've updated my original blog entry in response to the claim to that effect.

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