For most of April, while Mars scuttled behind the Sun as seen from Earth, both Mars rovers were pretty inactive. Now that conjunction has ended, both are doing what rovers should be doing: roving and exploring. As of sol 3312 Opportunity had moved more than 300 meters southward toward Solander Point, while on her sol 279 Curiosity drilled at a second site, Cumberland.
Back in 2005 and 2006, when Pluto’s second and third moons (Nix and Hydra) were discovered, searches by astronomers for still more moons didn’t reveal any. So the accidental discovery of Pluto’s fourth moon by the Hubble Space Telescope in mid-2011 raised the possibility that the hazards in the Pluto system might be greater than previously anticipated.
As the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) team waited out solar conjunction, Opportunity spent most of April atop the western rim of Endeavour Crater, conducting a chemical analysis of an ancient waterborne vein on Matijevic Hill. It was by the book until the last week of the month when the robot field geologist suffered an electronic "hiccup" known as a warm re-boot, and went into auto mode, a kind of safe mode when something doesn't go right.
Check out this absolutely wonderful infographic, produced by Olaf Frohn, that summarizes the entire history of solar system exploration.
All cylinders are firing here in the Society as we rev up a big response for the White House's NASA budget that proposes another $200 million cut to Planetary Science.
As the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission trekked further into its tenth year of exploring the Red Planet, Opportunity spent the month of March finishing up its science investigations on Matijevic Hill.
India's Mars Orbiter Mission has been much in the news in Asian media over the last week as a result of the release of ISRO's Annual Report 2012-2013. Also, ISRO and NASA issued a joint statement from Washington a week ago endorsing interagency cooperation in the space sciences
Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2013/03/29 11:27 CDT
Flash memory or computer problems oddly occurred on both Curiosity and Opportunity around Feb 27. One possibility is that a large solar flare resulted in radiation at Mars sufficient to temporarily corrupt the memory on both rovers.
Curiosity is back to science operations, though the activities are limited in scope by the fact that conjunction is fast approaching. Here's a couple of neat images from sol 227.
A mind-boggling quantity of information is being presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. In my first report from the meeting, I try to make sense of the Curiosity and Opportunity sessions.
The news from the Curiosity mission today is this: Curiosity has found, at the site called John Klein, a rock that contains evidence for a past environment that would have been suitable for Earth-like microorganisms.
Planetary Society Hangout: March 7th, 2013 - What's Going On With Curiosity and a NASA Budget Update
Thursday at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 UT
Thursday at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 UT we check in with Emily Lakdawalla to bring us up to speed with Curiosity's computer problems and we check in on NASA's budget status.
As February turned to March, Opportunity was conducting some of its final science investigations on Matijevic Hill, the MER team was making preparations for the robot field geologist's trek south for the next winter, and the Mars Exploration Rovers mission was checking off another month of exploration.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/05 01:29 CST
Last week the Curiosity mission made its first data delivery to the Planetary Data System. The bad news: none of the science camera image data is there yet. The good news: there are lots and lots of other goodies to explore.