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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit and Opportunity Begin Fifth Year of Exploration in Shadow of "Little Sasquatch "

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2008/01/31 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rovers celebrated their fourth birthdays and began their fifth year of exploring this month -- and for the first time since the big dust storm hit the headlines last summer, Spirit and Opportunity made the news. It wasn't for the notable exploration or engineering milestone they had just achieved or the discoveries they've helped scientists make about a once very different Mars. It was because of an alleged "Bigfoot" sighting.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit and Opportunity Wrap Year 4, Ready to Rove into 2008

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/12/31 11:00 CST

The mission was only supposed to last three months, maybe six months if all went well, but the Mars Exploration Rovers surprised everyone. Demonstrating an uncanny kind of "robot right stuff," they roved far beyond what anyone dreamed and now, in a matter of days, Spirit and Opportunity will celebrate their 4th birthdays and rove into their fifth year of exploring the Red Planet.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Thrashes with Tartarus, Opportunity Wrestles RAT at Victoria's Ring

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/11/30 11:00 CST

Nail-biting drama and the inevitable signs of aging marked the month of November for the Mars Exploration Rovers, with Spirit accidentally encountering Tartarus, a dust-filled crater, on its way to its winter haven and having to thrash for its life, and Opportunity spending a lot of its time conducting tests on its RAT (rock abrasion tool), which lost another encoder.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Homes in on Winter Site as Opportunity Examines Victoria's Ring

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/10/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) logged another major milestone in October as they completed a second Martian year of field geology and now may rove on through 2009.

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Wheel tracks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/10/18 04:07 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers have left wheel tracks all over their landing sites, but for some reason this pair of wheel tracks, left in the sand ripple on the rim of Victoria crater and now viewed from below, tickled my fancy. Thanks to James Canvin for the lovely panorama.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Slides Across Home Plate as Opportunity Digs in at Victoria Crater

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/09/30 12:00 CDT

It might not be the stuff of Broadway musicals, but the Sun and did "come out tomorrow" on Mars. Just eight weeks after dust from severe storms darkened the Martian skies and threatened their solar-powered lives, the Mars Exploration Rovers finished dusting off as much as possible and took off on their long-anticipated expeditions this month, with Spirit roving onto an old volcanic formation called Home Plate and Opportunity cruising into Victoria Crater.

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Opportunity takes first gingerly steps into Victoria Crater

Posted by Doug Ellison on 2007/09/13 05:11 CDT

Mars Exploration Rover scientists, engineers and enthusiasts have been playing the waiting game for 10 weeks, watching the much-reported dust storm subside so that Opportunity could get back to doing what it does best - exploring craters.

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Skies slowly lightening for Spirit and Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/09/07 05:27 CDT

I just received another batch of "tau" images from rover camera lead Jim Bell to add to my visualizations of the rovers' dark skies. These pictures provide a direct measurement of the opacity of the atmosphere between the rovers and the Sun.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit and Opportunity Shake Some Dust, Assess Storm Damage, and Return to Exploring

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/08/31 12:00 CDT

With dust from the summer's storms floating down on and all around them, the Mars Exploration Rovers returned to their exploration agendas this month, picking up right where they left off in July when winds kicked the soils up into the southern hemisphere and forced them to hunker down and conserve power.

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Dust storm update: A rover's-eye-view

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/29 05:06 CDT

I haven't written an update on the dust storm at Mars recently for two reasons. For one, the rovers are out of immediate danger, so it wasn't as urgent. The other reason is that Jim Bell wanted Cornell to issue a press release with updated versions of the images and animations I've been putting together from the rovers' "tau" images.

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Poised on the threshold of Victoria Crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/29 01:26 CDT

Although Mars' atmosphere continues to be rather dusty, the storm has abated enough that both Mars Exploration Rovers have resumed a relatively normal level of activity. For Opportunity, that means a drive to the very edge of Victoria crater.

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A little good news on the rovers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/08 10:56 CDT

The skies aren't quite as dark as they have been, for both Spirit and Opportunity. In fact, Spirit has enough power now to be doing a little work with its robotic arm.

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"Concern Increasing" for Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/08/01 08:46 CDT

Yesterday evening the Mars Exploration Rover mission posted an update that states "increasing concern" for the continued health of Opportunity.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity and Spirit Brave Global Dust Storm

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/07/31 12:00 CDT

It was to be a Martian summer to remember. Just one month ago, the Mars Exploration Rovers were set to embark on long-awaited adventures. At Meridiani Planum, Opportunity was preparing for its grand entrance into the magnificent Victoria Crater and on the other side of the planet Spirit was finally going to explore the top of Home Plate, an old, intriguing volcanic formation in the Gusev Crater area. Then a series of dust storms hit suddenly, it was a Martian summer to remember alright, but for far different, windswept reasons.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/23 05:04 CDT

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.

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The dust storm has brought gloom to Opportunity's skies, but everything is OK

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/07/10 11:09 CDT

Opportunity has ceased operations for a couple of days because the amount of sunlight available is low due to an unpredicted dust storm.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Detours in Silica Valley, Opportunity Returns to Duck Bay to Enter Victoria

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/06/30 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) spent the month of June finishing work and clearing their agendas at their respective locales at Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum in preparation for highly anticipated new assignments in July.

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The original "Puddles on Mars" story has been retracted

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/06/12 06:01 CDT

Today, New Scientist and researcher Ron Levin retracted the "puddles on Mars" claim in the face of evidence that the "puddles" were on sloping surfaces. I've updated my original blog entry in response to the claim to that effect.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Finds "Explosive" Evidence of Past Water, Opportunity Revs Up, Revisits Cape of Good Hope

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/05/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers sent home field reports this past month -- some 1,200 days into their missions -- that drew gasps of amazement from both the science and engineering teams.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Finds Past Water at Home, Opportunity Takes in Tierra del Fuego

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/04/30 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) traveled to new targets and made discoveries ranging from the magnificent to the mundane in April, four fast weeks that essentially led both of the twin robot field geologists to the next phase of their explorations.

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