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Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by paddoboy, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    http://mars.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/present/2003/

    Spirit and Opportunity Rovers



    In January 2004, two robotic geologists named Spirit and Opportunity landed on opposite sides of the red planet. With far greater mobility than the 1997 Mars Pathfinder rover, these robotic explorers have trekked for miles across the Martian surface, conducting field geology and making atmospheric observations. Carrying identical, sophisticated sets of science instruments, both rovers have found evidence of ancient Martian environments where intermittently wet and habitable conditions existed.

    During the rovers' landings, parachutes deployed to slow the descending spacecraft, rockets fired to slow them still more just before impact, and airbags inflated to cushion their landing. After bouncing and rolling to a halt, a protective structure of petals opened, brought the landers to an upright position, and provided a platform from which the rovers drove onto the Martian surface.

    Since leaving their landing sites, the twin rovers have sent more than 100,000 spectacular, high-resolution, full-color images of Martian terrain as well as detailed microscopic images of rocks and soil surfaces to Earth. Four different spectrometers have amassed unparalleled information about the chemical and mineralogical makeup of Martian rocks and soil. Special rock abrasion tools, never before sent to another planet, have enabled scientists to peer beneath the dusty and weathered surfaces of rocks to examine their interiors.

    Each rover weighs nearly 180 kilograms (about 400 pounds). Two and a half years after landing, both rovers are still working and have far exceeded their initial 90-day warranties on Mars.

    Opportunity's study of "Eagle" and "Endurance" craters revealed evidence for past inter-dune playa lakes that evaporated to form sulfate-rich sands. The sands were reworked by water and wind, solidified into rock, and soaked by groundwater. Opportunity is examining more sedimentary bedrock exposures along a route leading from "Endurance" to "Victoria Crater," where an even broader, deeper section of layered rock is likely exposed that could reveal new aspects of Martian geologic history in Meridiani Planum.

    While Spirit's initial travels in Gusev Crater revealed a more basaltic setting, after reaching the "Columbia Hills" the rover found a variety of rocks indicating that early Mars was characterized by impacts, explosive volcanism, and subsurface water. Unusual-looking bright patches of soil turned out to be extremely salty and affected by past water. At "Home Plate," a circular feature in the "Inner Basin" of the "Columbia Hills," Spirit discovered finely layered rocks that are as geologically compelling as those found by Opportunity and that may hold clues to a history of past water in Gusev Crater.

    http://mars.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/present/2003/
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    It's mate "Spirit" became stuck in late 2009, and its last communication with Earth was sent on March 22, 2010.
     
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  5. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    It got stuck in the mud or ice ?
     
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  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Mud or rock from memory: One of its wheels was not working I also recollect.
     
  8. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Half right with regards to the wheel not working......
    It actually lost traction and became stuck in sand......
    http://www.space.com/18766-spirit-rover.html
    One of Spirit's wheels quit in March 2006 as the rover was racing to a slope to get enough sunlight to last the winter. NASA dragged the wheel behind the rover, slowly moving Spirit an hour a day as the sun's strength allowed. It safely arrived at its destination in April.

    The location proved to be a good spot to stop, as the rover found "water-altered minerals" nearby when it resumed operations in late 2006.

    Latter years on Mars

    Spirit journeyed 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers) during its years on Mars, more than a dozen times the distance that NASA planned to travel. Spirit soldiered on despite a spite of mechanical and Martian difficulties.

    Funny enough, the tricky wheel ended up being useful to the mission; in March 2007, NASA announced the rover churned up some soil that had sulfur and water traces in it.

    As the year passed, it uncovered the site of a possible volcanic outburst, and survived an extensive dust storm. Another storm in late 2008 put Spirit's power down to concerning levels, but the rover pulled through.

    Martian winds cleared some of the dust away in February 2009. In April, Spirit began to have rebooting trouble from its computer again, with periods of what NASA described as "amnesia." The rover began driving again as NASA worked to fix the problem, but then ran into a worse problem: sinking sand. The rover unexpectedly broke through a crust on April 23 into softer sand, and couldn't get out again.

    NASA spent months running simulations and sending commands to the stranded rover, but also performed some science while standing in place. The agency was delighted to see sand with basalt, sulfate and silica in it, all revealed to the rover as it tried to get out of its trap. One press release called the location, Troy, "one of the most interesting places Spirit has been."

    On Dec. 31, 2009, NASA warned there may not be enough power to last the winter. Spirit's last communication came on March 22, 2010, and it remained silent as NASA spent months hailing it.
    http://www.space.com/18766-spirit-rover.html
     
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  10. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    I wonder if Opportunity has or will outlive, some of the scientists and those monitoring it.

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