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What are the rovers up to?

Emily Lakdawalla • January 21, 2009

Spirit's been getting some nice views of the spot it spent all of 2008 in, "Home Plate north." Meanwhile, Opportunity is motoring along.

Some events for the 5th anniversary of Spirit and Opportunity's landing on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2009

Tonight at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, Jim Bell and Bill Nye will be celebrating the 5th anniversary of the landing of the rovers; Jim will be showing lots of pretty 3D pictures.

The Santorini panorama

Emily Lakdawalla • January 08, 2009

A tip of the hat to Ryan over at Martian Chronicles for posting this lovely version of the Santorini panorama, which Opportunity captured just before Mars dipped too close to the Sun in late November of last year.

I am totally hooked on Scott Maxwell's new Mars Exploration Rover blog

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2009

Scott Maxwell is one of those many guys (and gals) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who rarely gets his name in the news but who is absolutely indispensable to the success of a space mission. I don't know what his official title is, but whatever it is, it's not as good as the colloquial name given to his position: Rover Driver.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: As Spirit and Opportunity Rove On, We Look Back on 2008

A.J.S. Rayl • December 31, 2008

As 2008 fades to the pages of history, Spirit and Opportunity are closing in on the end of their fifth year of exploration on the Red Planet and moving the Mars Exploration Rover mission forward into a new year of bold scientific objectives.

Another longevity milestone for Spirit and Opportunity

Emily Lakdawalla • December 29, 2008

We're getting close to the fifth anniversary of the landings of Spirit and Opportunity, but was we approach that milestone, we're passing another. I've been told that as of yesterday, Spirit and Opportunity have operated on Mars for a combined length of time that is longer than the combined number of sols that the twin Viking landers operated.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Recuperates from Dust Storm, Opportunity Hits on Santorini

A.J.S. Rayl • November 30, 2008

The Mars Exploration Rovers are nearing the end of their fifth year of exploring the Red Planet in dramatically different ways.

Solar conjunction: Holidays for Mars missions, and an Opportunity update

Emily Lakdawalla • November 21, 2008

The period of Mars solar conjunction has just begun, which means that a host of scientists and engineers whose day jobs entail interaction with the five active Mars spacecraft are getting a five-week break from the daily grind of operations.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Phones Home After Life-Threatening Dust Storm

A.J.S. Rayl • November 13, 2008

After taking a "direct hit" from one of Mars' notorious dust storms last weekend, Spirit phoned home today at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, exactly like its ground team had asked it to do and members of the rover team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) cheered. "She's talking!"

Opportunity and Spirit updates: Both are now driving

Emily Lakdawalla • October 31, 2008

Another day, another drive: on sols 1,693 and 1,695 the Opportunity rover conducted two more lengthy drives to the south, totaling almost 200 meters. On the other side of the planet, Spirit is FINALLY in motion again.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit "Bumps" a Move, Opportunity Puts the Pedal to the Metal

A.J.S. Rayl • October 31, 2008

Spring is still off a ways on the horizon in the Red Planet's southern hemisphere, but the solar-powered Mars Exploration Rovers seemed to shake off their third Martian winter this month, as they roved into new phases and looked to new destinations on their overland expeditions of Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum. In the process, Spirit and Opportunity both chalked up notable achievements in October, adding to their already long list of accomplishments accrued as the world's first long-lived roving robot field geologists.

Opportunity is really hitting the highway

Emily Lakdawalla • October 28, 2008

Victoria crater, the site of a Mars year's worth of study, is now far over the horizon, as Opportunity has lately completed a series of very long drives. Opportunity is once again sailing the sand seas of Meridiani Planum.

Long drives at last for Opportunity (or, getting your kicks on sol 1,666)

Emily Lakdawalla • October 02, 2008

It's been way, way, way too long since the view from either rover's cameras has changed very much. So I hope you'll join me in a shout of "woo hoo!" or perhaps "yippee!" as I show you the latest view from Opportunity, from sol 1,666, as automatically composed in Mike Howard's Midnight Mars Browser software.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Embarks on New Endeavour, Spirit Gets Back To Normal Schedule

A.J.S. Rayl • September 30, 2008

It's been a September to remember for the Mars Exploration Rovers with Spirit producing enough power to return to its science assignments on a daily basis and Opportunity commanding the spotlight once again as it embarked on a long journey toward a new, humongous crater and one of the most ambitious adventures undertaken on the mission.

Opportunity's got a long road ahead

Emily Lakdawalla • September 19, 2008

Mars Exploration Rover principal investigator Steve Squyres announced on National Public Radio's Science Friday show the next goal for Opportunity, and it's a long, long, long way away: a huge crater about 12 kilometers southeast of its current location, which the team is referring to internally as "Endeavour."

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Exits Victoria Crater, Spirit Picks Up Pace on Panorama

A.J.S. Rayl • August 31, 2008

Clear skies and a warming Sun brightened winter in the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet, giving the Mars Exploration Rovers, appropriately enough, an august month. Opportunity packed up, left Cape Verde in the dust, and made headlines when it roved out of Victoria Crater last Thursday. On the other side of the planet, Spirit picked up the pace of photographing its surroundings for its next big, 360-degree, full color panorama.

Opportunity's ready for a new adventure!

Emily Lakdawalla • August 29, 2008

It's official: Opportunity is out of Victoria. A news release from JPL stated today that Opportunity has, as of late yesterday (sol 1,634), exited Victoria crater.

Looking back into Victoria crater

Emily Lakdawalla • August 08, 2008

Here's another wonderful self-portrait silhouette by Opportunity.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Bides Winter Time, Opportunity Wraps Victoria and Begins Exit

A.J.S. Rayl • July 31, 2008

After cruising through winter solstice in late June, the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) roved into July taking every advantage of a winter that is by all appearances now proving to be rather mild for the Red Planet. At Gusev Crater, Spirit managed to maintain its power level and get back to doing a little bit of science, while on the other side of the planet, at Meridiani Planum, Opportunity finished photographing Cape Verde and began to chart its course back to Duck Bay where it will exit Victoria Crater.

Danes on Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • July 17, 2008

I was delighted to receive an email from Morten Bo Madsen, who I knew from the Mars Exploration Rover mission as "that Danish magnet guy," the fellow responsible for the magnet experiments on nearly every American Mars mission. The magnets were originally designed to study the properties of airborne Martian dust, which would help determine its composition.

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