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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Snoozes Past Viking, Opportunity Snaps Endeavour on Horizon

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/04/30 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers' fourth Martian winter is proving to be the harshest one yet and Spirit and Opportunity are getting colder than ever before. With temperatures on the Red Planet dropping in April and the Martian winter solstice still two weeks away, the season has turned into a shivering nail-biter.

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Spirit: Schrödinger's Rover

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/28 12:01 CDT

Either Spirit is the longest-lived landed Mars mission ever, or she is not. We won't know for certain unless we manage to observe a radio signal from her.

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Sweet dreams, Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/31 06:48 CDT

Spirit had been communicating on a once-per-week schedule in recent weeks. During the designated time for the rover to communicate with NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter passing overhead on March 30, Odyssey heard nothing from the rover.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Begins Hibernation Probably, Opportunity Roves On to Endeavour Crater

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/03/31 12:00 CDT

March seems to have come in like a lamb and gone out like a lion on the Red Planet this year as the Mars Exploration Rovers trudged deeper into their fourth winter. While Opportunity finished up work at Concepcin Crater and shifted into gear back on the road to Endeavour Crater, Spirit finished up winter preparations and carried out a limited winter agenda before shifting, it appears, into hibernation mode.

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Opportunity's at the twin craters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/27 05:09 CDT

Just a little update here to post a Navcam panorama from Opportunity showing that the rover successfully arrived yesterday at the doublet crater she's been aiming for since she left Concepcion a couple of weeks ago.

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Gorilla seen in Nasa Snap from Mars? Umm....no.

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/03 04:00 CST

Yes, I'm totally not kidding, that is the headline in the Sun: "'Gorilla' seen in Nasa Snap from Mars."

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Parks for Winter, Opportunity Tastes Chocolate Hills

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/02/28 11:00 CST

As winter put the freeze on in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet, the Mars Exploration Rovers slowed down a bit, but continued throughout February to demonstrate the mettle that made them famous: Spirit successfully drove backwards, parked in place for the season, then continued working, as Opportunity roved through rock debris on a cruise around the rim of Concepcin Crater.

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Find pics and track the rovers in Google Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/11 05:28 CST

I think a goodly proportion of you readers have already figured this out for yourselves since it was launched last March, but I didn't download and install it until last weekend, so this is new to me: Google Mars is awesome.

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Pretty picture: Opportunity around Concepcion

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/09 10:32 CST

Here's a neat picture from Opportunity, a panorama composed of its wide-angle, mast-mounted Navcam cameras, showing the crater Concepcion.

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A pretty picture of Concepcion crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/01 10:37 CST

It looks like the rover team thinks Concepcion is pretty enough (in both aesthetic and a scientific senses) to be worthy of the full-color Pancam panorama treatment; color frames started arriving on Earth over the weekend.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Rovers Pass 6-Year Milestone as Spirit Halts Extrication to Winter at Troy, Opportunity Cruises to Concepcion Crater

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/01/31 11:00 CST

Five and a half years after they were supposed to be history, the Mars Exploration Rovers celebrated their sixth Earth year on the Red Planet with Opportunity pulling up to a fresh, new crater on the road to Endeavour, and Spirit working on repositioning itself to settle in for the coming Martian winter, and perhaps the rest of its mission.

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Opportunity's thousand-year-old crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/29 10:59 CST

Since leaving Marquette Island on sol 2,122, Opportunity has been barreling southward on her journey toward Endeavour crater. On her horizon for the last several sols has been a very small but very fresh looking crater named Concepción.

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NASA decides Spirit is henceforth to be a lander

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/26 03:22 CST

There was a press briefing today that announced the official end of efforts to extricate Spirit from her sand trap at Troy. Instead, the rover drivers will now focus on improving the chances that Spirit will survive the coming winter so that she can carry on doing science once the power situation improves in the spring.

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Brief rover update: "We do not believe [Spirit] is extractable."

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/26 11:36 CST

Brief rover update: "We do not believe [Spirit] is extractable."

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Just a Few More Approaches to Try for Extrication

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/13 10:09 CST

"The list of remaining maneuvers being considered for extricating Spirit is becoming shorter."

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Spirit's still "extricating"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/08 01:08 CST

It's been two months, now, that extrication efforts have been going on. It's discouraging that the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit isn't out of the trap.

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What's up in the solar system in January 2010

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/04 01:29 CST

While we don't have Moon bases, we do have plenty of spacecraft. Before I get into my more detailed look at the activities of the 20-odd spacecraft wandering about the solar system, I thought I'd look ahead to 2010 more generally and see what the year has in store for us.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Perseveres Struggles, Opportunity Digs in at Marquette Island -- And We Look Back on 2009

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/12/31 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rovers quietly wrapped up 2009 this month: Spirit continued to valiantly spin its wheels in an attempt to get out of its embedded location on the west side of Home Plate in Gusev Crater; and Opportunity continued its investigation of Marquette Island, perhaps the oldest Martian rock it's found to date at Meridiani Planum.

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Worsening outlook for Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/31 10:57 CST

I just got a press release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that made my heart sink; the extrication effort for Spirit is not going at all well. I did not want to keep sounding a knell of bad news. But once in a while, I do have to report bad news.

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No, they can't push with the arm to free Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/15 11:25 CST

I've gotten this question about once a week since Spirit got stuck, but yesterday, two different readers asked the same question within an hour of each other, so I figured it was time for a blog entry.

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