Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
Spirit stopped transmitting good data last Wednesday, but never went silent. It continued communicating with the MER team and returning good information with which the team is now working.
Although it did appear from the very first images returned that the second Mars Exploration Rover had landed inside a small crater when it arrived at Meridiani Planum last Saturday night, that belief was confirmed with further analysis yesterday.
Opportunity landed in Meridiani Planum on Mars last night at 9:05 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) -- and fours hours later sent its first postcards home!
The specially formed Anomaly Team working overnight to unravel the mystery of what happened last Wednesday that caused the rover’s computer to fall into a reboot loop and stop functioning properly – had by this morning come up with a working hypothesis.
The second Mars Exploration Rover -- Opportunity -- Spirit's identical twin -- is approaching the atmosphere of Mars and is expected to land on the Red Planet tonight around 9:06 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Spirit 'phoned home' this morning and returned some good engineering data, but the Mars rover remains in
Something is wrong with Spirit, but what exactly it is -- and just how serious it is -- the Mars Exploration Rover team isn't sure.
A week after Huygens' descent, the emerging picture of the surface of that smoggy world is of an arid, icy desert, where periodic storms of methane rain create transient rivers that wash sooty soil from icy highlands out to short-lived pools and lakes. The pools dry up -- perhaps sinking into a sandy soil of glass-like water ice -- and the Titanian desert waits for another methane storm.
Spirit got off to a running start this week, using three of the four instruments on her robotic arm to study a patch of Martian soil, and the football-sized rock Adirondack.
Spirit ventured out yesterday, driving nearly 10 feet (about 3 meters) to its first target -- a football-sized rock that scientists have dubbed Adirondack. Meanwhile, Spirit's twin, Opportunity, successfully completed its first trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) in four months.
Spirit has extended her robotic arm for the first time to examine a patch of fine-grained Martian soil, and joined forces with the European Space Agency's Mars Express to successfully conduct the first-ever, international, coordinated observation of the planet's atmosphere.
Spirit gets 6 wheels on soil. For some of the team members, this was the real landing.
Spirit is ready to roll.
As Earthlings slept last night, Spirit completed the first part of a three-part maneuver that will take her down the ramp and onto the Martian surface early Thursday morning Earth time.
As Spirit slept soundly after another near-perfect day of picture taking, science gathering, and data relays from Mars, NASA released the first color 360-degree panorama postcard it sent home.
Spirit is up -- standing at full height on all six wheels -- and is ready to roll off the lander heading west by northwest, probably sometime early Thursday morning Earth time, according to the latest plan.
Spirit continues to return
If a Hollywood screenwriter had crafted the scenes for the last few days of the Spirit Mission Team at JPL as they really happened -- success after success, triumphant image after triumph he or she would be out of a job.
With additional data due later today and early tomorrow morning, the mission team is hoping to receive and piece together the first color picture perfect panoramic postcard -- from the PanCam, a high resolution stereo vision camera -- for the briefing tomorrow.
Spirit -- NASA's first Mars Exploration Rover -- survived the 'six minutes of terror' entering and descending through the atmosphere to land safely -- and upright -- in Gusev Crater on the Red Planet. Just two hours after the confirmation signal of the landing, the first engineering data and images began streaming into the MER Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where Spirit and her twin, Opportunity were built.
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