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.
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.
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.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/12/31 11:00 CST
The Mars Exploration Rovers are wrapping up another year of exploring their seventh -- having experienced both the best of times and the worst of times: Spirit continued a 10-month struggle to endure its coldest, harshest Martian winter yet; Opportunity set a new record for driving despite an arthritic front wheel and a broken shoulder, putting more miles on her rocker bogie in 2010 than in any other single year.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/15 02:40 CST
Today Opportunity has driven to within 20 meters of Santa Maria crater, and the blocks around it are really, really cool-looking. This one is a dead ringer for the severed tail of an alligator.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/14 01:18 CST
Opportunity is on a kilometers-long eastward road trip across Meridiani Planum toward the rim of a large ancient crater named Endeavour; it'll be many months yet before she gets there.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/11/30 11:00 CST
The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) forged on in November, their 83rd month of an expedition originally planned for three months: Spirit remained silent at Gusev Crater presumably still re-charging her batteries, as Opportunity roved through a field of craters pressing on toward Endeavour Crater, quietly claiming title along the way to being the first roving robot to drive 25 kilometers on Mars.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/10 04:46 CST
In the last few days, Opportunity's passed by several craters, and the rover drivers took advantage of the chance encounters for what they call "drive-by shooting" (a phrase I can't say I'm particularly fond of, but they didn't ask me).
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/10/31 12:00 CDT
For the Mars Exploration Rovers, October was a lot like September, which was a lot like August: Spirit continued hibernating at Gusev Crater or so it appears since the rover didn't phone home; and Opportunity picked up the pace to Endeavour Crater again, setting new driving records and marking more milestones along the way.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/14 07:02 CDT
Waaaay back when Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004, the Planetary Society helped the public participate in the missions with a number of projects, including one where we printed "secret codes" around the edges of the two names-bearing DVDs that were bolted to the Mars Exploration Rover landers.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/09/30 12:00 CDT
As Opportunity picked up the pace to Endeavour Crater this month and crossed the halfway point on the long journey from Victoria Crater and Spirit continued sleeping in hibernation mode, the Mars Exploration Rovers chalked up their 81st month of what was supposed to have been just a three-month tour of the Red Planet.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/22 05:17 CDT
Opportunity is continuing to make tracks toward Endeavour crater, but just because she's got a goal for her road trip doesn't mean she won't stop and smell the flowers from time to time. Er, did I say "flowers?" I meant "meteorites."
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/15 04:38 CDT
What a difference a couple of months of driving make. Here's the sort of view of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's road ahead that I'm accustomed to, taken two months ago.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/08/31 12:00 CDT
With the Sun beginning to warm the landscape in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet and winds whipping up here and there forming dust devils that kick the powdery, rust-colored topsoil into the atmosphere, the Mars Exploration Rovers have been experiencing sure signs of a Martian spring this month.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/07/31 12:00 CDT
Winter lingers in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet, but the Sun is beginning to rise higher in the sky and temperatures are slowly rising, signs the Mars Exploration Rovers are heading into spring. While Spirit continued hibernating, Opportunity took in the warmth of the Sun, captured its first dust devil, and picked up the pace in Meridiani Planum on the long journey to Endeavour Crater. Together, the rovers marked six and a half years of exploration.
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?
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.
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