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Bringing MOLA altimetry tracks into Google Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/27 05:02 CDT

I've had a fun morning of noodling around learning how to write KML files, and have produced one for Google Mars that shows you all of the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter tracks that cross the area Opportunity has driven through already, as well as the area of Endeavour crater.

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A first look at distant hills

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/25 12:36 CDT

Rover fans have been excitedly watching the hills on Opportunity's horizon grow taller and taller as Opportunity rolls toward its destination, Endeavour crater.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Sleeps Soundlessly, Opportunity Turns a Corner

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.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Rests on Big Find, Opportunity Finishes Half-Marathon on Way to Endeavour

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.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Team Announces Major Water Discovery

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

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Sleeps through Solstice, Opportunity Cruises Past Viking Record

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/05/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers made it through their fourth winter solstice in what is the coldest, most challenging Martian winter the twin robot field geologists have experienced.

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Is this the eastward turn we've all been waiting for?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/27 07:24 CDT

As I discussed on Monday, Opportunity is in the middle of a lengthy trek toward a crater named Endeavour and its tantalizing upraised smectite-bearing rim.

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The goal of Opportunity's trek

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/24 02:00 CDT

Opportunity's kilometers-long march across the sands of Meridiani Planum is a great story, and the journey is fun to follow; but what could be worth such a long march?

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Opportunity: longest-lived landed Mars mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/19 10:26 CDT

Today is sol 2,246 of Opportunity's mission to Mars; as I write, it's just before 7:00 local solar time. If this sol passes, as her previous 2,245 have done, with Opportunity still alive and speaking to Earth, she will have surpassed a record set on November 12, 1982: Opportunity will pass Viking Lander 1 as the longest-lived landed Mars mission.

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Solstice? What solstice?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/14 08:40 CDT

Thumbing her nose at this whole winter thing, Opportunity drove 20 meters yesterday, sol 2,240, on the winter solstice.

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A Martian Moment in Time, revisited

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/12 02:30 CDT

A good start to my day today: The New York Times' Lens Blog featured the "Martian Moment in Time" photo that Opportunity took last week in a really nice writeup. I'm so grateful, and still a little surprised, that the folks on the Mars Exploration Rover mission took this idea and ran with it!

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A moment in time

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/06 05:39 CDT

On Mars, at 15:00 local true solar time on May 2, a solitary rover gazed southward across her own dusty deck and snapped three photos, actually three sets of three photos, which were combined to make this view.

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Space carnival, rover update, Planetary Radio Live!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/03 04:01 CDT

Just a linky post today, as I am nanny-less.

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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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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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Opportunity at Concepción from orbit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/24 03:01 CDT

I saw this image at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference so am happy they released it: a view of Opportunity sitting on the north rim of the little, fresh Concepción crater, taken on sol 2153 (February 13, 2010).

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LPSC, Day 3: Opportunity, and what the heck is Marquette?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/05 01:40 CST

I wrote earlier about some results from Spirit reported at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas; here are the rest of my notes on rover-related talks, from Opportunity's site on the opposite side of 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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