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26 April 2015

Sol 966-968: More Driving

  by Ken Herkenhoff The rover drove 32 meters on Sol 964, to a position that gave us a good view of the terrain ahead and outcrops of interest.  So a longer (~90 m) drive is planned for Sol 967 after ChemCam and Mastcam observe nearby targets dubbed “Pablo” and “Pauline” on Sol 966.  Mastcam, Navcam and REMS will also observe the atmosphere.  I’m MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, and planned …


21 September 2010

Meteorite Ahead!

There has been a flurry of emails going around among the MER team about a certain rock ahead of the Opportunity rover that looks like it may be yet another meteorite.  It certainly doesn’t look much like the local meridiani rocks, which are the light-toned patches in the photo above. Meteorites are interesting because they provide information about the weathering environment on mars. We know that Mars is all rusty, …


17 November 2009

Be a Martian!

Fact #1: As a Mars scientist, I am incredibly spoiled. There are so many missions to Mars right now sending back so much data, that even if they all went silent tomorrow, it would be decades before we managed to look at all the data and figure out what it’s telling us. Fact #2: There are lots of people out there (I’m looking at you, loyal readers!) who would love …


15 April 2009

Watching out for Dust Storms

NASA just sent out this press release discussing the various ways that we watch out for dust storms that might be dangerous to the rovers. I have actually used data from the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) that they mention in the release, but I used it for the exact opposite task! I wrote programs that search through the images taken by that camera (there are a lot of them, it …


2 February 2009

New Google Mars

Google Earth’s latest edition was just released and guess what? It has a Mars setting! There was a way to overlay Mars data on the Earth globe in previous versions, but now that’s no longer necessary: just click a button and you’re on Mars. You can choose from a variety of global maps including topography, Viking images, Day and nighttime infrared, and visible color. It also has footprints for high …


8 January 2009

Early Birthday Present from Opportunity

The Opportunity rover will be celebrating its 5th birthday on Mars later this month, but as an early treat a shiny new panorama was just released. This panorama was taken in late November while the sun was between Mars and the Earth, cutting off communications. It shows the beautiful layered bedrock and undulating ripples that Opportunity is studying on its way to the giant crater Endeavor. Click the images below …


10 November 2008

Mars Art Galleries!

Apparently I am not the only person who has had the idea of posting “artistic” images of Mars! In the past week I’ve come across two sites with collections of Mars Art images. So in lieu of posting my own image this week, I’ll point you to these sites who had the idea before me! First is a site by Jim Plaxco called simply the Mars Art Gallery. It has …


22 September 2008

Opportunity on the Road Again

The Opportunity rover is out of Victoria crater and is on the road again. The destination? A huge 22km (13.7 mile) diameter crater, dubbed “Endeavor”, about 12 km to the southeast. Opportunity was designed to live for at least 90 martian days (sols) and drive about 800 m. Today is sol 1658 and Opportunity has so far driven about 12 km (11,797.91 meters, to be precise). It’s not certain that …


16 September 2008

Potential MSL Site: South Meridiani

The south Meridiani landing site is a newcomer to the bunch. It was added earlier this summer as a replacement for the north meridiani site. The south Meridiani site is about 100 km due south of the Opportunity rover landing site and about 100 km due east of the Miyamoto site. What makes the south Meridiani site interesting is that, just south of the landing ellipse, you transition from Meridiani …


Potential MSL Site: Miyamoto Crater

Miyamoto crater is an ancient crater about 150 km southwest of where the Opportunity rover is right now. It probably formed in the earliest stage of Mars history, and was then subject to lots of erosion by water, followed by being partially or completely buried by the same material that make up the Meridiani plains. Then, erosion exposed it again. The potential landing site has some interesting mineralogy, particularly evidence …


31 August 2008

Mars Rovers Twitter!

Following the lead of their younger, hipper cousin Phoenix, the Rovers now have their own Twitter page. Check it often to get the latest rover news!


29 August 2008

Opportunity Update: Out of Victoria!

It’s offical: Opportunity is out of Victoria crater and back on level ground for the first time in almost a year. Next up, the rover will take a look at some cobbles: rocks strewn about the plains of meridiani by distant impacts. For more detail, check out the JPL press release.


27 August 2008

Opportunity Update: Leaving Victoria Crater

JPL just put out a press release confirming the plan that the rover team has been aware of for a while now: Opportunity is on its way out of Victoria crater. After a lot of frustratingly difficult driving toward the crater wall at Cape Verde, we have tons of awesome images of the layers in the rock but were unable to get close enough to reach out and touch it. …


13 August 2008

Dusk at Cape Verde

Hello everyone! I am back from my adventures in Hawaii, and have learned a lot about volcanism and conducted some valuable research on the consistency of Hawaiian beach sand… I have a bunch of emails to catch up on before making a real substantive post, but I couldn’t resist sharing the latest view of Cape Verde from Opportunity. This mosaic was taken at dusk after the sun had set, and …


14 June 2008

Which is Earth?

We had another great day at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve today, with lots of pictures, but it also involved a lot of hiking and I’m tired. So instead of a full post, I will refer you to my adviser’s post about our first day at the dunes, over at the Planetary Society blog. I’m also stealing the image that he posted over there, comparing granule ripples on …


30 April 2008

Opportunity Update: Sols 1515-1516

Opportunity is still sitting on the slope of Victoria crater, doing diagnostics on her arthritic arm. I’m afraid I don’t have any pretty pictures to post today; Pancam has a light load lately. I do have some news about the arm though. I am not deeply involved in the diagnostics process, so take my updates with a grain of salt. It sounds like only one joint is acting up (as …


29 April 2008

Opportunity Update: Sols 1513-1515

Hey folks, I’m on downlink duty again this week, once again working with Opportunity. When I last posted an update, Opportunity was making her way to the tantalizing layers in the Cape Verde cliff face. Unfortunately, we’ve made little progress since then. First a small sand trap held us in place for a week or so, but we escaped that. Now we’re sitting still for something more serious: arthritis. Opportunity’s …


14 April 2008

Cape Verde Mosaic

Last week I posted a nice mosaic that Opportunity took of her current target, Cape Verde. Ever since the dust storm last summer, the camera lenses have been a bit clouded up, and it takes some time to fix the images up so that they look a little more normal. A new, touched-up false color version of the image is now available, as well as an approximate true color mosaic. …


7 April 2008

Opportunity Update: Sols 1492-1494

Opportunity is still making her laborious way over to Cape Verde. This weekend we had a drive planned, but the wheels slipped too much in the loose sand that we’re driving on, so just to be safe, the drive was cut short. The good news is that this week Opportunity will be driving every day, so we should make better time. More good news is that we got some pretty …


4 April 2008

Opportunity Update: Sols 1490-1491

Day by day, we’re getting closer to Cape Verde! On sol 1490, Opportunity did a little bit of driving, but the rover tilted a bit too much, which caused it to stop for safety reasons. Don’t worry, Opportunity is fine, but the rover drivers are being cautious, so the drive was cut short. We got down some cool pictures though! Some of the high-resolution frames of Cape Verde came down, …