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Blog Archive


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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That's a lot of motion for a "stuck" rover!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/06 08:14 CST

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted a video to YouTube today showing what seems to be a remarkable amount of motion out of Spirit lately, especially given that she's supposed to be a "stationary science platform" now.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Rovers Pass 6-Year Milestone as Spirit Halts Extrication to Winter at Troy, Opportunity Cruises to Concepcion Crater

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2010/01/31 11:00 CST

Five and a half years after they were supposed to be history, the Mars Exploration Rovers celebrated their sixth Earth year on the Red Planet with Opportunity pulling up to a fresh, new crater on the road to Endeavour, and Spirit working on repositioning itself to settle in for the coming Martian winter, and perhaps the rest of its mission.

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NASA decides Spirit is henceforth to be a lander

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/26 03:22 CST

There was a press briefing today that announced the official end of efforts to extricate Spirit from her sand trap at Troy. Instead, the rover drivers will now focus on improving the chances that Spirit will survive the coming winter so that she can carry on doing science once the power situation improves in the spring.

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Brief rover update: "We do not believe [Spirit] is extractable."

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/26 11:36 CST

There's a press briefing going on right now that marks today, January 26, 2010, more than six years after she landed, the day that NASA decided that Spirit's roving days were over.

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Just a Few More Approaches to Try for Extrication

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/13 10:09 CST

"The list of remaining maneuvers being considered for extricating Spirit is becoming shorter."

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Spirit's still "extricating"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/08 01:08 CST

It's been two months, now, that extrication efforts have been going on. It's discouraging that the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit isn't out of the trap.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Perseveres Struggles, Opportunity Digs in at Marquette Island -- And We Look Back on 2009

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/12/31 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rovers quietly wrapped up 2009 this month: Spirit continued to valiantly spin its wheels in an attempt to get out of its embedded location on the west side of Home Plate in Gusev Crater; and Opportunity continued its investigation of Marquette Island, perhaps the oldest Martian rock it's found to date at Meridiani Planum.

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Worsening outlook for Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/31 10:57 CST

I just got a press release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that made my heart sink; the extrication effort for Spirit is not going at all well. I did not want to keep sounding a knell of bad news. But once in a while, I do have to report bad news.

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No, they can't push with the arm to free Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/15 11:25 CST

I've gotten this question about once a week since Spirit got stuck, but yesterday, two different readers asked the same question within an hour of each other, so I figured it was time for a blog entry.

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A teeny weeny bit of movement in Spirit's right front wheel

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/14 01:12 CST

The ever-vigilant Doug Ellison just posted this animation, which really actually does show a teeny tiny bit of motion in the right front wheel. If you don't notice any motion, look closer.

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Awesome Mars Express view of Phobos and Deimos together

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/12/11 11:24 CST

My inbox was exploding this morning with messages about a tremendously cool animation released this morning by ESA's Mars Express team. It shows Phobos crossing Deimos, in what's known as a "mutual event."

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Turns Wheels, Opportunity Rests at Rare Martian Rock

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/11/30 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rovers managed to make history and uncover history in November and that put both Spirit and Opportunity in the planetary exploration spotlight during the 71st month of an overland expedition that was supposed to be a three-month tour.

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Encouraging motion on Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/19 04:54 CST

It really looks like the second attempt at driving Spirit out of the trap has had the hoped-for result: some forward progress (maybe about a centimeter), and no evidence for further downward sinking.

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Results of the first "Free Spirit" extrication drive, sol 2088: not much, as expected

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/17 03:20 CST

Even though all of us rover fans know that Spirit is really, really stuck, I think I'm not the only one who was secretly hoping that today's images downlinked from Spirit would show that the rover had magically popped out of the ground overnight. Of course, she didn't.

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Highlights from today's Spirit press briefing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/12 01:49 CST

Since A. J. S. Rayl was also listening in on today's press briefing about the efforts to extricate Spirit from her predicament at Troy, I'll just hit the high points and send you over to her story when she has posted it.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Begins Extraction Process

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/11/12 11:00 CST

On Monday, November 16, 2009, Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will begin the much-anticipated, weeks-long process of extricating itself from a patch of powdery soil that stopped it in its tracks six months ago. It will begin by driving forward to the north, following its tracks out, even though its right front wheel is broken and immobilized.

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She moves! "First drive sequence in 145 sols" for Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/11/08 04:39 CST

It's been an awful long time since we've seen one of these from Spirit: an animation of four Navcam frames documenting motion!

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Overcomes Setbacks and Waits for Extraction Orders, Opportunity Takes a Magical Meteorite Tour

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/10/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rover mission logged another textbook-rewriting month in October 2009 with more discoveries of geologic gems, new robot achievements balanced with equal amounts of challenges and frustrations overcome, topped off with special honors.

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