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Five Years of Spirit on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • January 02, 2009

On January 3, 2004, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit landed on Mars, and I was with the science team at JPL when it happened! I can't believe it's been five years since the successful landing.

Solar conjunction: Holidays for Mars missions, and an Opportunity update

Emily Lakdawalla • November 21, 2008

The period of Mars solar conjunction has just begun, which means that a host of scientists and engineers whose day jobs entail interaction with the five active Mars spacecraft are getting a five-week break from the daily grind of operations.

Opportunity's got a long road ahead

Emily Lakdawalla • September 19, 2008

Mars Exploration Rover principal investigator Steve Squyres announced on National Public Radio's Science Friday show the next goal for Opportunity, and it's a long, long, long way away: a huge crater about 12 kilometers southeast of its current location, which the team is referring to internally as "Endeavour."

More things to see in the amazing HiRISE image of Phoenix' descent

Emily Lakdawalla • July 10, 2008

I have posted several times about the amazing photo captured by HiRISE of Phoenix under its parachute as it descended. There have been two common questions I've received about the photo: was there any color data taken, and what more can I tell you about how hard it was to take the photo? I've got answers to both questions for you today.

Some beautiful video from the Spirit and Opportunity landing sites

Emily Lakdawalla • May 12, 2008

A majority of the people who work in planetary geology are usually associated with one or maybe two missions, doing all their research on the results from one instrument on one mission. But there are a few people whose expertise cuts across many space missions, and an even smaller number of people who seem to work on almost everything. Randy Kirk is one of those people.

What's up in the solar system for the week of May 12

Emily Lakdawalla • May 12, 2008

It's time to check in on what's going on with our trusty robots around the solar system.

White Rock through the Ages: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2006-present)

Emily Lakdawalla • May 08, 2008

I apologize for the long hiatus in this White Rock series, but I hope this entry will be worth the wait.

What's up in the solar system for the week of May 5

Emily Lakdawalla • May 05, 2008

Here's what's happening on active planetary missions this week.

What's up in the solar system for the week of April 28

Emily Lakdawalla • April 28, 2008

I thought it would be fun to start the week by taking stock of what's going on with all the active planetary missions out there.

Shadows cast from Victoria's capes and bays

Emily Lakdawalla • April 14, 2008

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.

Spirit, seen from space

Emily Lakdawalla • March 24, 2008

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.

Mars Climate Sounder Collects 20 Millionth Sounding

Bruce Betts • March 10, 2008

Last week Mars Climate Sounder collected its 20 millionth sounding at Mars. Mars Climate Sounder is scanning without problems, collecting science observations of the atmosphere of Mars. Mars Climate Sounder has now been observing Mars for over 17 months (three quarters of a Mars year and also approximately three quarters of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter primary science mission).

Finding images from Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • February 06, 2008

There have been so many missions to Mars, which have sent back so much data, that figuring out how to find images of places on Mars can be really overwhelming.

Have a happy day on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • February 01, 2008

I thought this was a fun image to kick off the weekend. This isn't the first happy-looking crater to be photographed from Mars, but I really like this one; it's more goofy.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2007

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.

Windows Onto the Abyss: Cave Skylights on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • May 23, 2007

Today's set of image releases from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE team included this one, of a fairly bland-looking lava plain to the northeast of Arsia Mons. Bland, that is, except for a black spot in the center.

Millions of soundings yield clues to Mars' weather

Bruce Betts • April 03, 2007

Two months after the start of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's primary science phase, the Mars Climate Sounder instrument has already acquired more than four million soundings, building toward a vast data set on the three-dimensional structure of Mars' atmosphere over the full Martian year of the orbiter's nominal mission.

Autumn comes to Mars' north pole

Emily Lakdawalla • February 18, 2007

It's easy to forget that Mars is another such world with cloudy weather and seasonally varying climate. This lovely image release from the CRISM instrument on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter brings that point home.

Still no word from Mars Global Surveyor

Emily Lakdawalla • November 14, 2006

It's now been nine days since Mars Global Surveyor was last heard from.

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