When Opportunity’s 5000th day dawned in February, it was a meaningful milestone for the team, and it led to a personal first for the veteran robot field geologist that has chalked up so many firsts she’s set the standard for Mars rovers.
Some of the biggest discoveries we make in planetary science rely on the seemingly simple act of picking up and analyzing pieces of other worlds. When things go awry, scientists and engineers can sometimes squeeze amazing science out of a tough situation.
With the Martian winter on the run, Opportunity cruised closer to its 14th anniversary of exploring the Red Planet in December as she deliberated a distinctive “fork in the road” deep in Perseverance Valley and wrapped another record year.
Three launches to the Moon and one each to Mercury and Mars; two arrivals at near-Earth asteroids; and an approach to an encounter with a distant Kuiper belt object are highlights we anticipate in 2018.
As brutally cold got even colder at Endeavour Crater in October, the depths of winter gripped Opportunity, and ‘life’ on Mars slowed. But the robot field geologist continued to work on through the doldrums of the season.
The Martian winter began to grip Endeavour Crater in September, slowing Opportunity's pace. But she braved the brutal cold in Perseverance Valley and followed her commands to visually document everything in sight.