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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Overcomes Setbacks and Waits for Extraction Orders, Opportunity Takes a Magical Meteorite Tour

A.J.S. Rayl • October 31, 2009

The Mars Exploration Rover mission logged another textbook-rewriting month in October 2009 with more discoveries of geologic gems, new robot achievements balanced with equal amounts of challenges and frustrations overcome, topped off with special honors.

Opportunity's world of dunes and rock

Emily Lakdawalla • October 16, 2009

Opportunity's been making tracks lately, with brief stops to check out a couple of meteorites. I thought this view of its surroundings on sol 2,034 (a couple of days ago) was neat.

It would appear that Opportunity has stumbled upon another meteorite

Emily Lakdawalla • October 02, 2009

I wonder if this came from the same original body as Block Island, or if Meridiani is the kind of slowly deflating landscape that accumulates meteorites at its surface, like the ANSMET meteorite hunting spots in Antarctica?

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Embedded Spirit Waits Exit Approval, Opportunity Celebrates New Mars Year with New Record

A.J.S. Rayl • September 30, 2009

From notable achievements and new discoveries to trials and tribulations and harbingers of hope, the Mars Exploration Rovers seemed to experience the gamut on the Red Planet this September, their 69th month on an expedition that originally set out back in 2004 for a three-month tour.

Opportunity on the move

Emily Lakdawalla • September 29, 2009

Opportunity rover is driving, driving, driving. It departed the meteorite named Block Island on sol 2,004 and has routinely clocked 70 meters per driving day (with drives every other day).

Beautiful 3D animation of Spirit's environs in Gusev Crater

Emily Lakdawalla • September 23, 2009

Doug Ellison has done it again: he's created a spectacular overflight of Gusev crater based upon digital elevation models of the terrain produced by the United States Geological Survey from HiRISE data.

Opportunity's highway, and a tour of Block Island

Emily Lakdawalla • September 15, 2009

Just a cool image to start the morning: after a 70-meter drive yesterday, Opportunity's following not one but two sets of its own tracks.

New HiRISE image of Spirit at Home Plate

Emily Lakdawalla • September 03, 2009

There's a lovely new color HiRISE image of Spirit at Home Plate. It was captured on July 16 (sol 1,968), and Spirit is firmly entrenched at Troy, on the western side of Home Plate.

Dust storm update: Skies clearing for Spirit

Emily Lakdawalla • September 02, 2009

For a while, Mars was beating Spirit while she was down, throwing a dust storm at the rover where it's bogged up to its hubcaps in fluffy soil When lots of dust is lofted into the sky, the hazard is that when it comes down, it may come down on the rover and its solar panels. But it appears things on Spirit are still pretty clean.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Celebrates 3 Martian Years, Opportunity Finds Blockbuster in Block Island

A.J.S. Rayl • August 31, 2009

The Mars Exploration Rovers hunkered down in place in August and delivered more mission "gold" as they achieved new milestones and uncovered more scientific gems, not the least of which was a blockbuster of a meteorite. But August proved to be a stormy month, uniquely challenging and one that many on the Mars Exploration Team will never forget.

Happy 3rd anniversary of the Spirit landing!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 26, 2009

"Third anniversary?" some of you may be asking. "Hasn't it been more like five years since Spirit landed?" Five Earth years, yes. But today is the third anniversary of the landing, measured in Mars years.

A sunset into the dust

Emily Lakdawalla • August 24, 2009

While Spirit has been stuck at Troy, it's been taking numerous opportunities to capture photos with dramatic twilight lighting. On sol 2,002 (three sols ago, or August 21), it gazed toward the setting Sun, snapping the shutter roughly once a minute.

New image of Opportunity on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • August 14, 2009

I really can't explain why it didn't occur to me to search for the rover in the image of Victoria crater released by the HiRISE team on Wednesday.

Mars eye candy: New oblique view of Victoria crater

Emily Lakdawalla • August 12, 2009

Today the HiRISE team released a lovely new view of Victoria crater, taken nearly a year after the Opportunity rover departed it.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Works as Team Tests Exit Moves, Opportunity Roves to Block Island

A.J.S. Rayl • July 31, 2009

The Mars Exploration Rovers maintained a busy schedule in July: Spirit worked day and night doing whatever it could to make use of its abundant energy; Opportunity effectively treated its “hot” right front wheel and got back to making some consecutive long drives toward the still distant Endeavour Crater.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Embedded in Paydirt, Opportunity Roving on 'Hot' Wheel

A.J.S. Rayl • June 30, 2009

It's been a relatively quiet but scientifically significant month on the Red Planet for the Mars Exploration Rovers. While Opportunity continued its long journey to Endeavour Crater, forced to take it slower and make longer stops to rest its 'hot' front wheel, Spirit, seemingly just biding its time embedded in a sand pit it slipped into in April, turned up one of the most intriguing discoveries on the mission to date.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Sand Snared and Dusted, Opportunity Rests and Roves

A.J.S. Rayl • May 31, 2009

The Mars Exploration Rovers hit some rough patches in May as Spirit sat stuck in a sand patch all month and Opportunity had to stop again to rest its right front wheel but with a little help from Mars, the intrepid, twin robot field geologists cruised through the summer solstice with the energy and invincibility of a couple of teenage robots.

Exciting Times Ahead: 2010 Will Sizzle, and 2011 Will Really Cook!

Alan Stern • May 18, 2009

Today, I'm kicking the week off with a look at the unusually intense confluence of far flung planetary exploration that's just around the corner, starting the middle of next year.

Spirit Stuck

Mark Adler • May 12, 2009

The Spirit rover on Mars is currently stuck in a patch of loose material. After a few attempts to get free, the team has wisely decided to do further experiments on Earth instead of on Mars.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Endures Reboots and Amnesia, Opportunity Races Forward

A.J.S. Rayl • April 30, 2009

The Mars Exploration Rovers challenged their ground crews with an April full of high drama, a little suspense, and a lot of energy. While Spirit lived through a kind of robot soap opera, complete with bewildering reboots and bouts of amnesia, Opportunity roved forward and back into the fast lane on a restored front wheel, slowing down for a brief visit to a series of small, intriguing craters and an unplanned close encounter with a pesky little purgatoid.

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