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Emily LakdawallaSeptember 29, 2009

Opportunity on the move

While I've been focused on lunar water and MESSENGER and LCROSS the rest of our unmanned robotic missions have carried on business as usual, and right now business as usual for the Opportunity rover is driving, driving, driving. It departed the meteorite named Block Island on sol 2,004 and has routinely clocked 70 meters per driving day (with drives every other day). Tosol is the 2,020nd and Opportunity's now more than half a kilometer west of Block Island and beginning to find some of the nice bedrock that it was aiming for.

Opportunity Navcam panorama, sol 2,017

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damien Bouic

Opportunity Navcam panorama, sol 2,017
Opportunity gazed eastward after its sol 2,017 (September 26, 2009) drive, catching its tracks marching off into the distance. The terrain in the foreground features more bedrock than Opportunity has been driving on recently.

But experience suggests Opportunity won't keep up this pace indefinitely. And -- what's that up in the distance? Another meteorite? Who knows? Maybe we'd better go see!

Opportunity Navcam view, sol 2,020

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Opportunity Navcam view, sol 2,020
Opportunity looked out on the Meridani Planum landscape on sol 2,020 (September 29) and spied a large rock in the distance (close to the horizon to the right of center).

P.S. Word from the MESSENGER mission is that images should be released at 10 am Eastern time tomorrow, which is 1400 UT, or 7 am my time. That's assuming that the downlink planned to happen right now goes according to plan. Stay tuned.

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Read more: pretty pictures, Opportunity, amateur image processing, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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