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Blog Archive


Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Embedded Spirit Waits Exit Approval, Opportunity Celebrates New Mars Year with New Record

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/09/30 12:00 CDT

From notable achievements and new discoveries to trials and tribulations and harbingers of hope, the Mars Exploration Rovers seemed to experience the gamut on the Red Planet this September, their 69th month on an expedition that originally set out back in 2004 for a three-month tour.

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Beautiful 3D animation of Spirit's environs in Gusev Crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/23 08:14 CDT

Doug Ellison has done it again: he's created a spectacular overflight of Gusev crater based upon digital elevation models of the terrain produced by the United States Geological Survey from HiRISE data.

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New HiRISE image of Spirit at Home Plate

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/03 01:43 CDT

There's a lovely new color HiRISE image of Spirit at Home Plate. It was captured on July 16 (sol 1,968), and Spirit is firmly entrenched at Troy, on the western side of Home Plate.

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Dust storm update: Skies clearing for Spirit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/02 12:25 CDT

For a while, Mars was beating Spirit while she was down, throwing a dust storm at the rover where it's bogged up to its hubcaps in fluffy soil When lots of dust is lofted into the sky, the hazard is that when it comes down, it may come down on the rover and its solar panels. But it appears things on Spirit are still pretty clean.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Celebrates 3 Martian Years, Opportunity Finds Blockbuster in Block Island

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/08/31 12:00 CDT | 1 comments

The Mars Exploration Rovers hunkered down in place in August and delivered more mission "gold" as they achieved new milestones and uncovered more scientific gems, not the least of which was a blockbuster of a meteorite. But August proved to be a stormy month, uniquely challenging and one that many on the Mars Exploration Team will never forget.

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Happy 3rd anniversary of the Spirit landing!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/08/26 02:03 CDT

"Third anniversary?" some of you may be asking. "Hasn't it been more like five years since Spirit landed?" Five Earth years, yes. But today is the third anniversary of the landing, measured in Mars years.

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A sunset into the dust

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/08/24 12:37 CDT

While Spirit has been stuck at Troy, it's been taking numerous opportunities to capture photos with dramatic twilight lighting. On sol 2,002 (three sols ago, or August 21), it gazed toward the setting Sun, snapping the shutter roughly once a minute.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Works as Team Tests Exit Moves, Opportunity Roves to Block Island

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/07/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers maintained a busy schedule in July: Spirit worked day and night doing whatever it could to make use of its abundant energy; Opportunity effectively treated its “hot” right front wheel and got back to making some consecutive long drives toward the still distant Endeavour Crater.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Embedded in Paydirt, Opportunity Roving on 'Hot' Wheel

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/06/30 12:00 CDT

It's been a relatively quiet but scientifically significant month on the Red Planet for the Mars Exploration Rovers. While Opportunity continued its long journey to Endeavour Crater, forced to take it slower and make longer stops to rest its 'hot' front wheel, Spirit, seemingly just biding its time embedded in a sand pit it slipped into in April, turned up one of the most intriguing discoveries on the mission to date.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Sand Snared and Dusted, Opportunity Rests and Roves

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/05/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers hit some rough patches in May as Spirit sat stuck in a sand patch all month and Opportunity had to stop again to rest its right front wheel but with a little help from Mars, the intrepid, twin robot field geologists cruised through the summer solstice with the energy and invincibility of a couple of teenage robots.

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Spirit Stuck

Posted by Mark Adler on 2009/05/12 12:39 CDT

The Spirit rover on Mars is currently stuck in a patch of loose material. After a few attempts to get free, the team has wisely decided to do further experiments on Earth instead of on Mars.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Endures Reboots and Amnesia, Opportunity Races Forward

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/04/30 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers challenged their ground crews with an April full of high drama, a little suspense, and a lot of energy. While Spirit lived through a kind of robot soap opera, complete with bewildering reboots and bouts of amnesia, Opportunity roved forward and back into the fast lane on a restored front wheel, slowing down for a brief visit to a series of small, intriguing craters and an unplanned close encounter with a pesky little purgatoid.

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Spirit hiccup

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/04/13 05:57 CDT

Another of those dreaded "status reports" from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory arrived in my mailbox just now.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Breaks Rove Record, Opportunity Sees Endeavour's Distant Rim

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/03/31 12:00 CDT

The Mars Exploration Rovers logged a memorable March, with Spirit finally making some serious tracks and setting a new driving record for a five-wheeled rover, and Opportunity getting a first glimpse on the distant horizon of its next big attraction, Endeavour Crater as it crossed a geologic boundary into a new field of "blueberries."

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Spirit puts the pedal to the metal

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/03/24 10:15 CDT

Way to go, Spirit! The last two drives for the five-wheeled rover have taken it a total of about 40 meters west, traveling around the north edge of Home Plate. If I'm not mistaken, that's more than Spirit has driven in the last 400 sols combined.

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What are the rovers up to?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/03/05 02:15 CST

As usual, troubled Spirit's progress sometimes amounts to only centimeters, while golden child Opportunity has already clocked four kilometers on its trek toward Endeavour.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Gains A little Power, Opportunity Loses a Little Steam

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/02/28 11:00 CST

Despite some struggles with terrain and technology, the Mars Exploration Rovers moved their missions forward in February, as Spirit and Opportunity pressed on toward their next major Martian attractions.

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Spirit update: It keeps going

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/02/04 11:04 CST

There have been a couple more releases from JPL in recent days updating the slightly worrisome announcement about Spirit that came out on January 28.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit and Opportunity Begin Sixth Year of Exploration

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2009/01/31 11:00 CST

The Mars Exploration Rover mission crossed the finish line of another major milestone this month, marking its fifth anniversary of exploring the Red Planet. As team members celebrated and shared stories in events all around Los Angeles, Spirit and Opportunity kept on roving, bucking up under the inevitable pains of growing older. They're heading now for their next major destinations.

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Spirit's not behaving normally -- sometimes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/01/28 03:13 CST

Rather than try to interpret what's going on, I'm just going to repost in full a "rover mission status report" (always an ominous subject heading) I just received from the JPL media relations office. I'll post updates when any are available.

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