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NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover leaves Cape Tribulation heading for Perseverance Valley on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is departing “Cape Tribulation,” a crater-rim segment it has explored since late 2014, southbound for its next destination, “Perseverance Valley.”

The rover team plans observations in the valley to determine what type of fluid activity carved it billions of years ago: water, wind, or flowing debris lubricated by water.

A color panorama of a ridge called “Rocheport” provides both a parting souvenir of Cape Tribulation and also possible help for understanding the valley ahead. The view was assembled from multiple images taken by Opportunity’s panoramic camera.

A grooved ridge called "Rocheport" on the rim of Mars' Endeavour Crater spans this scene from the Pancam on NASA's Mars rover Opportunity. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

A grooved ridge called “Rocheport” on the rim of Mars’ Endeavour Crater spans this scene from the Pancam on NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity starts Solander Point climb

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover has begun climbing “Solander Point,” the northern tip of the tallest hill it has encountered in the mission’s nearly 10 Earth years on Mars.

Guided by mineral mapping from orbit, the rover is exploring outcrops on the northwestern slopes of Solander Point, making its way up the hill much as a field geologist would do. The outcrops are exposed from several feet (about 2 meters) to about 20 feet (6 meters) above the surrounding plains, on slopes as steep as 15 to 20 degrees. The rover may later drive south and ascend farther up the hill, which peaks at about 130 feet (40 meters) above the plains.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured this southward uphill view after beginning to ascend the northwestern slope of "Solander Point" on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured this southward uphill view after beginning to ascend the northwestern slope of “Solander Point” on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Opportunity Rover begins work around Solander Point on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity is studying the area of contact between a rock layer formed in acidic wet conditions long ago and an even older one that may be from a more neutral wet environment.

This geological contact line recording a change in environmental conditions billions of years ago lies at the foot of a north-facing slope, “Solander Point,” that the rover’s operators chose months ago as Opportunity’s work area for the coming Martian southern hemisphere winter.

This view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows an area where a pale-toned geological unit called the "Burns Foundation," in the foreground, abuts a different geological unit. The darker unit, believed to be older, marks the edge of "Solander Point," a raised segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This view from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows an area where a pale-toned geological unit called the “Burns Foundation,” in the foreground, abuts a different geological unit. The darker unit, believed to be older, marks the edge of “Solander Point,” a raised segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity 10 Years after it’s Launch

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An image from Mars orbit taken 10 years after the launch of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the long-lived rover on its trek to a new destination on Mars.

The color image taken July 8th, 2013, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter catches Opportunity crossing relatively level ground called “Botany Bay” on its way to a rise called “Solander Point.”

This image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on July 8, 2013, captures NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity traversing south (at the end of the white arrow) to new science targets and a winter haven at "Solander Point," another portion of the Endeavour rim. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on July 8, 2013, captures NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity traversing south (at the end of the white arrow) to new science targets and a winter haven at “Solander Point,” another portion of the Endeavour rim. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity currently half way to it’s Next Destination, Solander Point

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has driven more than half of the distance needed to get from a site where it spent 22 months to its next destination.

The rover has less than half a mile (800 meters) to go to finish a 1.2-mile (2-kilometer) dash from one crater-rim segment, where it worked since mid-2011, to another, where mission controllers intend to keep Opportunity busy during the upcoming Martian winter.

This view shows the terrain that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is crossing in a flat area called "Botany Bay" on the way toward "Solander Point," which is visible on the horizon. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This view shows the terrain that NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is crossing in a flat area called “Botany Bay” on the way toward “Solander Point,” which is visible on the horizon. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of its Launch July 7th

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity blasted off from Cape Canaveral in 2003, many onlookers expected a relatively short mission.  Landing on Mars is risky business.

The Red Planet has a long history of destroying spacecraft that attempt to visit it. Even if Opportunity did land safely, it was only designed for a 3-month mission on the hostile Martian surface.

Few, if any, imagined that Opportunity would still be roving the red sands of Mars–and still making discoveries–ten years later.

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover is on the move again heading toward Rock Layers

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is trekking to a new study area still many weeks away. Soon the rover will celebrate its 10th Anniversary of leaving Earth.

The destination, called “Solander Point,” offers Opportunity access to a much taller stack of geological layering than the area where the rover has worked for the past 20 months, called “Cape York.” Both areas are raised segments of the western rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera (Pancam) to acquire this view of "Solander Point" during the mission's 3,325th Martian day, or sol (June 1st, 2013). (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera (Pancam) to acquire this view of “Solander Point” during the mission’s 3,325th Martian day, or sol (June 1st, 2013). (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity surpasses distance traveled record of any NASA offworld vehicle

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt visited Earth’s moon for three days in December 1972, they drove their mission’s Lunar Roving Vehicle 19.3 nautical miles (22.210 statute miles or 35.744 kilometers).

That was the farthest total distance for any NASA vehicle driving on a world other than Earth until yesterday.

On the 3,309th Martian day, or sol, of its mission on Mars (May 15th, 2013) NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity drove 263 feet (80 meters) southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On the 3,309th Martian day, or sol, of its mission on Mars (May 15th, 2013) NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity drove 263 feet (80 meters) southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity investigates Rock changed by Water

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is driving to a new study area after a dramatic finish to 20 months on “Cape York” with examination of a rock intensely altered by water.

The fractured rock, called “Esperance,” provides evidence about a wet ancient environment possibly favorable for life. The mission’s principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, said, “Esperance was so important, we committed several weeks to getting this one measurement of it, even though we knew the clock was ticking.”

The pale rock in the upper center of this image, about the size of a human forearm, includes a target called "Esperance," which was inspected by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Data from the rover's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) indicate that Esperance's composition is higher in aluminum and silica, and lower in calcium and iron, than other rocks Opportunity has examined in more than nine years on Mars. Preliminary interpretation points to clay mineral content due to intensive alteration by water. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

The pale rock in the upper center of this image, about the size of a human forearm, includes a target called “Esperance,” which was inspected by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Data from the rover’s alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) indicate that Esperance’s composition is higher in aluminum and silica, and lower in calcium and iron, than other rocks Opportunity has examined in more than nine years on Mars. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity takes photos of small Spherical Objects on an outcrop along the rim of Endeavour Crater

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s long-lived rover Opportunity has returned an image of the Martian surface that is puzzling researchers.

Spherical objects concentrated at an outcrop Opportunity reached last week differ in several ways from iron-rich spherules nicknamed “blueberries” the rover found at its landing site in early 2004 and at many other locations to date.

Small spherical objects fill the field in this mosaic combining four images from the Microscopic Imager on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ USGS/Modesto Junior College)

Small spherical objects fill the field in this mosaic combining four images from the Microscopic Imager on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ USGS/Modesto Junior College)

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