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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit's Silence Haunts, Opportunity Roves on to Endeavour

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/03/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rover mission experienced a month of highs tempered by one haunting low as it neared completion of its 87th month of a three-month tour this month. While Opportunity wrapped up its work at the youngest, freshest crater the rovers have explored to date, Spirit remained silent as the point of maximum sunshine for the Martian year came and went, further dimming once high hopes that the rover would phone home and rove on as summer settled on the southern hemisphere of Mars.

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LPSC 2011: Day 3: Moon, Mars, and Venus

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/03/10 11:11 CST

Wednesday morning included some interesting conversations. Notably, I spoke with Pamela Gay, who is responsible for the MoonZoo citizen science program and who is presently working on developing a site through which the public will be able to help search for potential Kuiper belt objects for the New Horizons mission to encounter after the Pluto flyby.

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Endeavour on Opportunity's horizon: Are we there yet?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/02 03:45 CST

Last week the Mars Exploration Rover team dumped another 90 sols' worth of data from Mars into NASA's Planetary Data System, the national repository for space mission data. As I did once before, I dove into this fresh pile of data to pull out Opportunity's color views of the distant rim of Endeavour crater.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Efforts to Recover Spirit Expand as Opportunity Wraps Up Work at Santa Maria

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/02/28 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission emerged from its third solar conjunction this month and, as March roars in, is embarking on its 86th month on the Red Planet. While Opportunity roved away from a surface target it had been studying at Santa Maria Crater and on to an intriguing blue boulder, JPL engineers on Earth stepped up their efforts to recover Spirit, which has been silent, ostensibly in hibernation mode, since late March, nearly one year ago.

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New website full of color versions of Opportunity rover's microscopic images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/24 04:47 CST

There is a fascinating new page on the Mars Exploration Rover Pancam science team's website, full of color versions of Opportunity's microscopic images. The Microscopic Imager is one of the tools on the end of the robotic arm, and serves as a hand lens for the robot geologist to explore the rocks and sands of Mars in great detail.

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Conjunction season is over, and Opportunity is back to work

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/17 04:04 CST

It's always a relief when conjunction passes. Opportunity has gotten right back to work, sending down data acquired just before the moratorium, which spanned from January 27 to February 11.

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Google Mars base maps available for Opportunity's future traverse

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/09 12:47 CST

Thanks to the work of several amateurs, Google Mars is a great tool for following the past and future peregrinations of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Mission Celebrates 7 Years of Exploration

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2011/01/31 11:00 CST

Seven years ago this month, Spirit bounced down onto the surface of the Red Planet, rolled to a stop upright, and beeped home, ready to roll. Three weeks later, Opportunity not only bounced down safely and right into a small crater, but opened its "eyes" to see what the Mars Exploration Rovers had been sent to find signs that water had once flowed there.

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"A genuinely weird experience": A video of Steve Squyres explaining a photo of Steve Squyres

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/12 10:09 CST

In a lovely talk, in his uncommonly engaging way, Steve Squyres presents the portrait of him that now hangs in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

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Sunset and eclipse on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/05 11:38 CST

These two movies were posted to the JPL website a couple of weeks ago, and they are just amazing.

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Two views of Santa Maria, from orbit and from the ground

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/04 11:27 CST

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has just snapped another photo of Opportunity sitting on the ground on Mars. These pictures never get old.

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Mars Exploration Rover Update: Spirit Silent Still, Opportunity Savors Santa Maria, We Flashback on 2010

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/12/31 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rovers are wrapping up another year of exploring their seventh -- having experienced both the best of times and the worst of times: Spirit continued a 10-month struggle to endure its coldest, harshest Martian winter yet; Opportunity set a new record for driving despite an arthritic front wheel and a broken shoulder, putting more miles on her rocker bogie in 2010 than in any other single year.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/15 02:40 CST

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/14 01:18 CST

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.

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

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/11/30 11:00 CST

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.

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Opportunity bags a few craters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/10 04:46 CST

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).

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

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/10/31 12:00 CDT

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.

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Crack the code for a message from Mars, redux

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/14 07:02 CDT

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.

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

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/09/30 12:00 CDT

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.

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Opportunity rolls up to Oileán Ruaidh

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/22 05:17 CDT

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."

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