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Puzzling Little Martian Spheres …

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… That Don’t Taste Like ‘Blueberries’

Small spherical objects fill the field in this mosaic combining four images from the Microscopic Imager on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The view covers an area about 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) across, at an outcrop called “Kirkwood” in the Cape York segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The individual spherules are up to about one-eighth inch (3 millimeters) in diameter.

The Microscopic Imager took the component images during the 3,064th Martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s work on Mars (Sept. 6, 2012). For a color view of the Kirkwood outcrop as Opportunity was approaching it two weeks earlier, see PIA16128 .

Opportunity discovered spherules at its landing site more than eight-and-a-half years earlier. Those spherules were nicknamed “blueberries.” They provided important evidence about long-ago wet environmental conditions on Mars because researchers using Opportunity’s science instruments identified them as concretions rich in the mineral hematite deposited by water saturating the bedrock. A picture of the “blueberries” from the same Microscopic Imager is PIA05564 .

The spherules at Kirkwood do not have the iron-rich composition of the blueberries. They also differ in concentration, distribution and structure. Some of the spherules in this image have been partially eroded away, revealing concentric internal structure. Opportunity’s science team plans to use the rover for further investigation of these spherules to determine what evidence they can provide about ancient Martian environmental conditions.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ USGS/Modesto Junior College
www.nasa.gov

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September 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm

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Opportunity’s Eighth Anniversary View From ‘Greeley Haven’

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(False Color)

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

This mosaic of images taken in mid-January 2012 shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location where NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is spending its fifth Martian winter, an outcrop informally named “Greeley Haven.”

Opportunity’s Panoramic Camera (Pancam) took the component images as part of full-circle view being assembled from Greeley Haven.

The view includes sand ripples and other wind-sculpted features in the foreground and mid-field. The northern edge of the the “Cape York” segment of the rim of Endeavour Crater forms an arc across the upper half of the scene.

Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time and EST (Jan. 24, PST). It has driven 21.4 miles (34.4 kilometers) as of its eighth anniversary on the planet. In late 2011, the rover team drove Opportunity up onto Greeley Haven to take advantage of the outcrop’s sun-facing slope to boost output from the rover’s dusty solar panels during the Martian winter.

Research activities while at Greeley Haven include a radio-science investigation of the interior of Mars, inspections of mineral compositions and textures on the outcrop, and monitoring of wind-caused changes on scales from dunes to individual soil particles.

The image combines exposures taken through Pancam filters centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). The view is presented in false color to make some differences between materials easier to see.
www.nasa.gov

Written by physicsgg

January 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm

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Final destination: After three years, Mars rover Opportunity poised to reach rim of giant crater for last brave adventure

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  • Finish line in sight for Opportunity after three-year journey
  • Endeavour crater is a 14mile-wide depression near the Martian equator
  • It is likely to be the rover’s final destination

Months after the death of the Mars rover Spirit, its surviving twin is poised to reach the rim of a vast crater to begin a fresh round of exploration.
Driving commands sent up to Opportunity directed the six-wheel rover to make the final push towards Endeavour crater, a 14mile-wide depression near the Martian equator that likely could be its final destination.
At its current pace and barring any hiccups, Opportunity should roll up to the crater’s edge today.

Slowly but surely: Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity makes its way to its destination - the Red Planet's vast Endeavour crater - in this image taken last month. It is due to arrive at the equator site today

It took Opportunity three years to travel the approximately 11 miles from landing zone in the top left hand corner to its current position two miles from Endeavour crater

The finish line was a spot along a ridge that the rover team nicknamed Spirit Point in honour of Opportunity’s lost twin.
Scientist Ray Arvidson, of Washington University in St Louis, who is part of the team, said: ‘I’m totally pumped. We’ve been driving for so long.’
The milestone injects a sense of adventure back into a mission that wowed the public with colour portraits of the landscape and the unmistakable geologic discoveries of a warm and wetter past….. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by physicsgg

August 9, 2011 at 11:47 am

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Drive Direction Image by Opportunity After Surpassing 20 Miles

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its navigation camera to record this view in the eastward driving direction after completing a drive on July 17, 2011, that took the rover’s total driving distance on Mars beyond 20 miles.
Opportunity drove 407 feet (124 meters) during the 2,658th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s exploration of the Meridian Planum region of Mars. That drive brought Opportunity’s total odometry to 20.01 miles (32.21 kilometers). It also brought Opportunity within about eight-tenths of a mile (about 1.3 kilometers) of the rim of Endeavour crater, which has been the rover team’s long-term destination for Opportunity since mid-2008. Portions of the Endeavour rim are visible on the horizon in this image.
Opportunity and its rover twin, Spirit, completed their original three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions. Spirit finished communicating with Earth in March 2010. Both rovers have made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life.
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http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=pia14269

Written by physicsgg

July 19, 2011 at 4:39 pm

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