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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Mission Declared Over, Opportunity Roves Closer to Endeavour

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/05/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration mission suffered the loss of Spirit and shifted to one-rover operations in May, but Opportunity carried on, blasting across the plains of Meridiani to within 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of its next major destination and discovery.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: NASA Ends Spirit Mission

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/05/26 12:00 CDT

The intensified effort to recover Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Spirit came to an end early Wednesday morning Pacific time and NASA has now transitioned the mission to a single-rover operation focused on Spirit's still-active twin, Opportunity.

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A picture of Spirit that's too poetical for words

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/25 01:25 CDT

Yesterday, I remarked that despite the declaration of her death we'll be seeing Spirit frequently over the next few years, as long as Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still monitoring her landing site with its HiRISE camera. I said that Spirit is a lump that's relatively easy to spot because of her dark shadow. Well, Spirit's managed to make herself even easier to spot than that.

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Sad news for Spirit: It's All Over But the Crying

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/24 03:05 CDT

Alicia Chang reported today that, according to project manager John Callas, the last attempt to uplink a command to the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will be made tomorrow. NASA will cease listening for signals from Spirit on Tuesday.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Recovery Attempt Continues, Opportunity Sprints to Endeavour

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/04/30 12:00 CDT

As Opportunity drove her little robot heart out, breaking the 28-kilometer mark on her odometer, and driving the longest backward drive ever, April proved to be another month of exhilarating highs for the Mars Exploration Rover mission and one extended low with only silence from Spirit, despite intensified efforts by her Earth crew to establish contact.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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Welcome to Carnival of Space #191

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/05 11:25 CDT

Welcome, everyone, to the Planetary Society Blog for the 191st Carnival of Space! Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.

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What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT

April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit's Silence Haunts, Opportunity Roves on to Endeavour

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/03/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rover mission experienced a month of highs tempered by one haunting low as it neared completion of its 87th month of a three-month tour this month. While Opportunity wrapped up its work at the youngest, freshest crater the rovers have explored to date, Spirit remained silent as the point of maximum sunshine for the Martian year came and went, further dimming once high hopes that the rover would phone home and rove on as summer settled on the southern hemisphere of Mars.

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LPSC 2011: Day 3: Moon, Mars, and Venus

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/03/10 11:11 CST

Wednesday morning included some interesting conversations. Notably, I spoke with Pamela Gay, who is responsible for the MoonZoo citizen science program and who is presently working on developing a site through which the public will be able to help search for potential Kuiper belt objects for the New Horizons mission to encounter after the Pluto flyby.

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Endeavour on Opportunity's horizon: Are we there yet?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/02 03:45 CST

Last week the Mars Exploration Rover team dumped another 90 sols' worth of data from Mars into NASA's Planetary Data System, the national repository for space mission data. As I did once before, I dove into this fresh pile of data to pull out Opportunity's color views of the distant rim of Endeavour crater.

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What's up in the solar system in March 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/28 02:43 CST

I don't think there's any question what the big event of this month will be: MESSENGER is finally, finally entering orbit at Mercury on March 18 at 00:45 UTC (March 17 at 16:45 for me).

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Efforts to Recover Spirit Expand as Opportunity Wraps Up Work at Santa Maria

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/02/28 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission emerged from its third solar conjunction this month and, as March roars in, is embarking on its 86th month on the Red Planet. While Opportunity roved away from a surface target it had been studying at Santa Maria Crater and on to an intriguing blue boulder, JPL engineers on Earth stepped up their efforts to recover Spirit, which has been silent, ostensibly in hibernation mode, since late March, nearly one year ago.

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New website full of color versions of Opportunity rover's microscopic images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/24 04:47 CST

There is a fascinating new page on the Mars Exploration Rover Pancam science team's website, full of color versions of Opportunity's microscopic images. The Microscopic Imager is one of the tools on the end of the robotic arm, and serves as a hand lens for the robot geologist to explore the rocks and sands of Mars in great detail.

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Conjunction season is over, and Opportunity is back to work

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/17 04:04 CST

It's always a relief when conjunction passes. Opportunity has gotten right back to work, sending down data acquired just before the moratorium, which spanned from January 27 to February 11.

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Google Mars base maps available for Opportunity's future traverse

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/09 12:47 CST

Thanks to the work of several amateurs, Google Mars is a great tool for following the past and future peregrinations of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Celebrates 7 Years of Exploration

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/01/31 11:00 CST

Seven years ago this month, Spirit bounced down onto the surface of the Red Planet, rolled to a stop upright, and beeped home, ready to roll. Three weeks later, Opportunity not only bounced down safely and right into a small crater, but opened its "eyes" to see what the Mars Exploration Rovers had been sent to find signs that water had once flowed there.

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"A genuinely weird experience": A video of Steve Squyres explaining a photo of Steve Squyres

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/12 10:09 CST

In a lovely talk, in his uncommonly engaging way, Steve Squyres presents the portrait of him that now hangs in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

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Sunset and eclipse on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/05 11:38 CST

These two movies were posted to the JPL website a couple of weeks ago, and they are just amazing.

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Two views of Santa Maria, from orbit and from the ground

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/04 11:27 CST

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has just snapped another photo of Opportunity sitting on the ground on Mars. These pictures never get old.

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