Mars Exploration Rovers

Mars Exploration Rovers

Two NASA robotic roving landers named Spirit and Opportunity, launched to Mars in summer 2003 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by Delta 2 rockets. Spirit was launched on June 10, followed by Opportunity on July 7. The two landers made planetfall on Mars in Jan. 2004, using parachutes and giant airbags to cushion their landings. Spirit touched down in Gusev crater, just south of the Martian equator, on Jan. 3. Three weeks later, on Jan. 24, Opportunity landed in Meridiani Planum, an extensive plain just north of the equator but on the other side of the planet. Both rovers were equipped with a battery of cameras, spectrometers, microscopes and digging and sampling tools. Spirit's chief task was to explore Gusev, a large impact crater about 145 km wide, and investigate the possibility that it might have been a lake in Mars' remote past. Opportunity's landing site in Meridianum Planum was an area covered by an ancient layer of hematite, an oxide of iron that on Earth is usually found in watery environments with small amounts of the mineral goethite. Opportunity was to investigate this hematite layer in the hope of finding goethite and once again uncovering evidence that water once flowed on Mars. A software problem threatened to cut short Spirit's science-gathering program early on, but engineers found a way of working around the difficulty. Project scientists estimated that the rovers would function for no more than three months, but by the beginning of 2005 both were still transmitting back valuable scientific data, much of which seemed to confirm Mars' watery past.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
These aerogels are used in several engineering applications today, including NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers.
Opportunity was part of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission, which was sent to Mars to explore the history of water on the planet.
2004: Spirit and Opportunity, NASA's Mars Exploration rovers, landed on opposite sides of the planet.
He is associated with three robotic interplanetary missions: the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Cassini mission to Saturn, and the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Surface missions, such as Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), also present a unique opportunity and challenge for Al.
Curiosity, one of Nasa's two Mars Exploration Rovers, landed in the 96 mile-wide crater in August 2012 and has been exploring the region since.
Fergason noted that NASA used THEMIS images to find safe landing sites for the Mars Exploration Rovers in 2004, and for Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, in 2012, and now THEMIS images are now helping NASA select a landing site for its next Mars rover in 2020.
WASHINGTON (CyHAN)- Two Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on the Red Planet in January, 2004, on a 90-day mission.
Later missions like the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER)--known to the public as Spirit and Opportunity--were built around this finding.
Curiosity is about twice as long and five times as heavy as the Spirit and Opportunity Mars exploration rovers, and carries over ten times the mass of scientific instruments.
"I was still engaged in Mars Exploration Rovers while the Mars Science Laboratory was really in its formulation stage," says Welch.

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