Days on Mars; Solar-Powered Rover Approaching 5000th Martian Dawn

Days on Mars; Solar-Powered Rover Approaching 5000th Martian Dawn

On the other side, although Opportunity rover had its chances of being stuck such as it got stuck in a single spot for over 19 weeks and then, another instance was recorded when the rover got stuck in a sand dune.

'The SHERLOC instrument is a valuable opportunity to prepare for human spaceflight as well as to perform fundamental scientific investigations of the Martian surface, ' said Marc Fries, a SHERLOC co-investigator and curator of extraterrestrial materials at Johnson Space Center.

And it has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments since it began its mission those many years ago.

The U.S. space agency reports in a news release that it determined that a slice of meteorite it found in Oman back in 1999 actually came from the Red Planet itself. Opportunity has also been able to send back atmospheric and astronomical data back to NASA.

"Five thousand sols after the start of our 90-sol mission, this unbelievable rover is still showing us surprises on Mars", said Nasa's Opportunity Project Manager John Callas.

The following is a statement from NASA on the accomplishment.

The most recent NASA craft to roam the Red Planet, the Curiosity rover, uses a small radioisotope thermoelectric generator as its power source and has now spent just over 1960 sols on Mars.

The next Mars rover is being built and developed at JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for use in the Mars 2020 mission.

There will be two pieces of SaU008 for testing on Earth and on Mars. Opportunity's Sol 1 was landing day, January 25, 2004 (that's in Universal Time; it was January 24 in California).

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And today (Feb. 16) is sol number 5,000.

So far, the rover has driven 45km from its landing site and is now looking at Perseverance Valley - a shallow channel at the western rim of the planet's Endeavour Crater. The rover has returned about 225,000 images, all promptly made public online. In just its first few months on the surface, it had already sent back findings about ancient groundwater on Mars.

Excited by the recent Opportunity's discovery, Arvidson explained that as the rover was investigating the Perseverance Valley, something looking like stone stripes appeared.

Opportunity rover started recently to research Perseverance Valley, a region which descends from the western edge of the Endeavour Crater.

Stone stripes are very distinctive characteristics in rocks which were formed on Earth upon the freezing and thawing of the soil in repeated cycles. But it might also be due to wind, downhill transport, other processes or a combination.

A piece of a Mars that landed on Earth is set to be returned to the red planet.

Opportunity will witness its 5,000th sunrise on the Red Planet on Saturday (Feb. 17), mission team members said.

"Perseverance Valley is a special place, like having a new mission again after all these years", said Ray Arvidson of Washington University and the Deputy Investigator for the Opportunity mission. It's mysterious. It's exciting.

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