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Opportunity drives within 20 meters of Santa Maria, spots alligator's tail

Emily Lakdawalla • December 15, 2010

Today Opportunity has driven to within 20 meters of Santa Maria crater, and the blocks around it are really, really cool-looking. This one is a dead ringer for the severed tail of an alligator.

Opportunity: "So close we can taste it" to Santa Maria

Emily Lakdawalla • December 14, 2010

Opportunity is on a kilometers-long eastward road trip across Meridiani Planum toward the rim of a large ancient crater named Endeavour; it'll be many months yet before she gets there.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Looks Back in Honor to Apollo 12, and Drives Exploration Onward

A.J.S. Rayl • November 30, 2010

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) forged on in November, their 83rd month of an expedition originally planned for three months: Spirit remained silent at Gusev Crater presumably still re-charging her batteries, as Opportunity roved through a field of craters pressing on toward Endeavour Crater, quietly claiming title along the way to being the first roving robot to drive 25 kilometers on Mars.

Opportunity bags a few craters

Emily Lakdawalla • November 10, 2010

In the last few days, Opportunity's passed by several craters, and the rover drivers took advantage of the chance encounters for what they call "drive-by shooting" (a phrase I can't say I'm particularly fond of, but they didn't ask me).

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Remains Silent, Opportunity Pushes on to Endeavour

A.J.S. Rayl • October 31, 2010

For the Mars Exploration Rovers, October was a lot like September, which was a lot like August: Spirit continued hibernating at Gusev Crater or so it appears since the rover didn't phone home; and Opportunity picked up the pace to Endeavour Crater again, setting new driving records and marking more milestones along the way.

Crack the code for a message from Mars, redux

Emily Lakdawalla • October 14, 2010

Waaaay back when Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004, the Planetary Society helped the public participate in the missions with a number of projects, including one where we printed "secret codes" around the edges of the two names-bearing DVDs that were bolted to the Mars Exploration Rover landers.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Snoozes through September , Opportunity Bolts Past Halfway Mark to Endeavour Crater

A.J.S. Rayl • September 30, 2010

As Opportunity picked up the pace to Endeavour Crater this month and crossed the halfway point on the long journey from Victoria Crater and Spirit continued sleeping in hibernation mode, the Mars Exploration Rovers chalked up their 81st month of what was supposed to have been just a three-month tour of the Red Planet.

Opportunity rolls up to Oileán Ruaidh

Emily Lakdawalla • September 22, 2010

Opportunity is continuing to make tracks toward Endeavour crater, but just because she's got a goal for her road trip doesn't mean she won't stop and smell the flowers from time to time. Er, did I say "flowers?" I meant "meteorites."

Opportunity's rocky road ahead, good news for an aging rover

Emily Lakdawalla • September 15, 2010

What a difference a couple of months of driving make. Here's the sort of view of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's road ahead that I'm accustomed to, taken two months ago.

Getting to the real science image data: It's not that hard!

Emily Lakdawalla • September 01, 2010

If I have to, I will drag reluctant people one at a time to plunge into NASA's Planetary Data System.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Hibernates Still, Opportunity Pulls into Cambridge Bay

A.J.S. Rayl • August 31, 2010

With the Sun beginning to warm the landscape in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet and winds whipping up here and there forming dust devils that kick the powdery, rust-colored topsoil into the atmosphere, the Mars Exploration Rovers have been experiencing sure signs of a Martian spring this month.

Bringing MOLA altimetry tracks into Google Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • August 27, 2010

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.

A first look at distant hills

Emily Lakdawalla • August 25, 2010

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

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

A.J.S. Rayl • July 31, 2010

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.

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

A.J.S. Rayl • June 30, 2010

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.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Team Announces Major Water Discovery

A.J.S. Rayl • June 17, 2010

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

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

A.J.S. Rayl • May 31, 2010

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • May 27, 2010

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.

The goal of Opportunity's trek

Emily Lakdawalla • May 24, 2010

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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