Astronomy [MISSION COVERAGE] Mars Rovers

Discussion in 'Astronomy' started by JcMinJapan, Nov 21, 2004.

  1. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    We have a few threads on the rovers. I am making this one to be able to post any new developments for them. I think we have neglected this mission a bit and I will be workling on some updates.
  2. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

  3. Zsandmann

    Zsandmann Premium Member

    Did you see my post in astronomy about the rovers' batteries recharging themselves, pretty neat.
  4. black hawk

    black hawk Premium Member

    What did we find so far on mars? Ide really like to know
  5. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

  6. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

    NASA - Mars Rovers Spot Water-Clue Mineral, Frost, Clouds
  7. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

    Guy Webster (818) 354-6278

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    Dolores Beasley (202) 358-1753

    NASA Headquarters, Washington

    News Release: 2005-001 Jan. 3, 2005

    NASA Rovers' Adventures On Mars Continue

    NASA lit a birthday candle today for its twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The Spirit rover begins its second year on Mars investigating puzzling rocks unlike any found earlier.

    The rovers successfully completed their three-month primary missions in April. They astound even their designers with how well they continue operating. The unanticipated longevity is allowing both rovers to reach additional destinations and to keep making discoveries. Spirit landed on Jan. 3 and Opportunity Jan. 24, 2004, respectively.

    "You could have cut the tension here with a knife the night Spirit landed," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "Just remembering the uncertainty involved with the landing emphasizes how exciting it is for all of us, since the rovers are still actively exploring. The rovers created an amazing amount of public interest and have certainly helped advance the Vision for Space Exploration," he said. The twin Mars explorers have drawn the most hits to NASA Web sites -- more than 9 billion in 2004.

    Dr. Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said, "Little did we know a year ago that we'd be celebrating a year of roving on Mars. The success of both rovers is tribute to hundreds of talented men and women who have put their knowledge and labor into this team effort."

    "The rovers are both in amazingly good shape for their age," said JPL's Jim Erickson, rover project manager. "The twins sailed through the worst of the martian winter with flying colors, and spring is coming. Both rovers are in strong positions to continue exploring, but we can't give you any guarantees."

    Opportunity is driving toward the heat shield that protected it during descent through the martian atmosphere. Rover team members hope to determine how deeply the atmospheric friction charred the protective layer. "With luck, our observations may help to improve our ability to deliver future vehicles to the surface of other planets," Erickson said.

    Spirit is exploring the Columbia Hills within the Gusev Crater. "In December, we discovered a completely new type of rock in Columbia Hills, unlike anything seen before on Mars," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the rovers' science payloads.

    Jumbled textures of specimens dubbed "Wishstone" and "Wishing Well" look like the product of an explosion, perhaps from a volcano or a meteor impact. These rocks are much richer in phosphorus than any other known Mars rocks. "Some ways of making phosphates involve water; others do not," Squyres said. "We want to look at more of these rocks to see if we can distinguish between those possible histories."

    NASA's next Mars mission, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, is due to launch in August. "As great as the past year has been, Mars launch opportunities come along like clockwork every 26 months," said Dr. Firouz Naderi of JPL, manager of NASA's Mars Exploration Program. "At every one of them in the foreseeable future, we intend to go to Mars, building upon the findings by the rovers."

    NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Jim Garvin said, "Mars lures us to explore its mysteries. It is the most Earth-like of our sister planets, and many believe it may hold clues to whether life ever existed or even originated beyond Earth. The rovers have shown us Mars had persistently wet, possibly life-sustaining environments. Beyond their own profound discoveries, the rovers have advanced our step-by-step program for examining Mars. We will continue to explore Mars robotically, and eventually with human explorers."

    Images and additional information about the rovers and their discoveries are available on the Internet at and .

    JPL has managed the Mars Exploration Rover project since it began in 2000. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
  8. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

    Guy Webster (818) 354-6278

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    Gretchen Cook-Anderson (202) 358-0836

    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

    News Release: 2005-018 January 19, 2005

    Opportunity Rover Finds an Iron Meteorite on Mars

    NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has found an iron meteorite, the first meteorite of any type ever identified on another planet.

    The pitted, basketball-size object is mostly made of iron and nickel according to readings from spectrometers on the rover. Only a small fraction of the meteorites fallen on Earth are similarly metal-rich. Others are rockier. As an example, the meteorite that blasted the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona is similar in composition.

    "This is a huge surprise, though maybe it shouldn't have been," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and its twin, Spirit.

    The meteorite, dubbed "Heat Shield Rock," sits near debris of Opportunity's heat shield on the surface of Meridiani Planum, a cratered flatland that has been Opportunity's home since the robot landed on Mars nearly one year ago.

    "I never thought we would get to use our instruments on a rock from someplace other than Mars," Squyres said. "Think about where an iron meteorite comes from: a destroyed planet or planetesimal that was big enough to differentiate into a metallic core and a rocky mantle."

    Rover-team scientists are wondering whether some rocks that Opportunity has seen atop the ground surface are rocky meteorites. "Mars should be hit by a lot more rocky meteorites than iron meteorites," Squyres said. "We've been seeing lots of cobbles out on the plains, and this raises the possibility that some of them may in fact be meteorites. We may be investigating some of those in coming weeks. The key is not what we'll learn about meteorites -- we have lots of meteorites on Earth -- but what the meteorites can tell us about Meridiani Planum."

    The numbers of exposed meteorites could be an indication of whether the plain is gradually eroding away or being built up.

    NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Jim Garvin said, "Exploring meteorites is a vital part of NASA's scientific agenda, and discovering whether there are storehouses of them on Mars opens new research possibilities, including further incentives for robotic and then human-based sample-return missions. Mars continues to provide unexpected science 'gold,' and our rovers have proven the value of mobile exploration with this latest finding."

    Initial observation of Heat Shield Rock from a distance with Opportunity's miniature thermal emission spectrometer suggested a metallic composition and raised speculation last week that it was a meteorite. The rover drove close enough to use its Moessbauer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometers, confirming the meteorite identification over the weekend.

    Opportunity and Spirit successfully completed their primary three-month missions on Mars in April 2004. NASA has extended their missions twice because the rovers have remained in good condition to continue exploring Mars longer than anticipated. They have found geological evidence of past wet environmental conditions that might have been hospitable to life.

    Opportunity has driven a total of 2.10 kilometers (1.30 miles). Minor mottling from dust has appeared in images from the rover's rear hazard-identification camera since Opportunity entered the area of its heat-shield debris, said Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., rover project manager. The rover team plans to begin driving Opportunity south toward a circular feature called "Vostok" within about a week.

    Spirit has driven a total of 4.05 kilometers (2.52 miles). It has been making slow progress uphill toward a ridge on "Husband Hill" inside Gusev Crater.

    JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, has managed NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project since it began in 2000. Images and additional information about the rovers and their discoveries are available on the Internet at and at
  9. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    sol 367-373, February 11, 2005: Examining a Trench and Scuff

    Opportunity is in good health after more than a year on the martian surface. The rover completed its investigation of a trench and soil materials on sol 373 and is ready for a software patch, which will be uploaded over next few sols. There have been no recent dust storm events, and tau -- a measurement of atmospheric opacity -- has remained close to 0.9 for the past two weeks.

    Sol-by-sol summaries:

    For sols 367 and 368, a two-sol plan focused on investigation of a trench that Spirit had dug with its wheels on sol 366. Opportunity awoke on sol 367 at about 7:30 a.m. local solar time after a night in the deep-sleep mode. It made some early-morning photometry measurements, then napped until the morning uplink window from 10:40 to 11:00 a.m. local solar time. After this, the rover acquired microscopic images of the trench wall, performed a short reading with the Mössbauer spectrometer, and then positioned the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for data collection. After an afternoon communications relay session via Mars Odyssey, the rover slept until the sol 368 morning relay pass, at which time it started the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration. In the morning of sol 368, Opportunity acquired more photometry observations, gathered more microscopic images, performed another short Mössbauer integration, and then positioned the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for an overnight integration.

    On sol 369, Opportunity completed more trench investigations. It gathered additional microscopic images on new targets in the trench, completed another short data-collection session with the Mössbauer spectrometer, and placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for another overnight integration.

    On sol 370, the rover acquired more microscopic images, more Mössbauer data and a variety of remote-sensing observations before using the deep-sleep mode overnight.

    On sol 371, after waking from deep sleep, Opportunity restarted the Mössbauer integration. The rover made remote-sensing observations during the middle of the day. Later, it gathered the last microscopic images on the trench, stowed its robotic arm and used its left front wheel to scuff the soil. Opportunity then bumped backwards to put the scuffed area into the arm's work volume.

    On sol 372, Opportunity completed microscopic imaging of the scuffed area, collected Mössbauer data, and switched to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. The rover did not use the deep sleep mode overnight so that it could perform an overnight reading with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

    On sol 373, Opportunity completed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer work and then changed tools back to the Mössbauer for more integration during the day. In the afternoon the rover acquired some final microscopic images of the scuff, used the hazard avoidance camera to inspect wear on the grinding teeth of the rock abrasion tool, and then stowed the arm. Opportunity then bumped back about 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) to position itself for observing the trench with the instruments on the mast. It turned to a heading of 250 degrees to be in good position for four hours of high-gain antenna tracking for receiving an upload of improved flight software. Sol 373 ended on Feb. 10.
  10. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    sol 388 - 393, February 15, 2005: Spirit Braving the Dust on Mars

    Spirit's solar panels are collecting a fine layer of dust, which has reduced energy levels, but Spirit keeps on keeping on.

    Sol-by-sol summaries:

    Spirit completed an approximately 13-meter (43-foot) drive toward the "Cumberland Ridge" on sol 388. Spirit spent sol 389 performing the usual set of remote-sensing observations.

    On sol 390, Spirit drove closer to "Larry's Lookout," about 13 meters (43 feet) backwards uphill. Spirit stopped when the rover reached the mobility time-of-day limit, which is a time of day that engineers program into the software to ensure the rover won't deplete all of its power at the end of a day's drive. Then, Spirit performed a set of remote sensing observations on sol 391.

    Sol 392 was planned as a 23-meter (75-foot) drive toward Larry's Lookout, plus some post-drive imaging in the drive direction with the navigation camera and panoramic camera. The usual remote-sensing science was planned for various times throughout the sol. However, Spirit halted after completing the first segment of the drive, a distance of only about 12 meters (39 feet). The halt may have been due to rocks nearby considered too dangerous by the rover's autonomous navigation system. This left Spirit with more driving to do on the next drive opportunity. Spirit also has been taking energy from the batteries recently (due to increased dust in the atmosphere, which has covered the solar panels with a thin layer of dust, blocking some of the light that provides energy via the solar panels).

    On sol 393, the rover team planned an easy remote-sensing day in order to try to put back some energy into the batteries.

    The plan for sol 394 was to perform a careful drive of about 6.4 meters (21 feet) to park in a spot where the rover team can carry out an upload of new flight software. The spot was chosen for an orientation facilitating the high gain antenna to point to Earth for good communication during upload of the flight software. Sol 394 ended on Feb. 11.

    As of sol 393, Spirit's total odometry is 4,108 meters (2.55 miles).
  11. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

    Edited by JCMinJapan - Cleaned up the spacing to make it shorter.