Feeds

Loyal NASA rover Opportunity enters 9th year of Mars boffinry

Plucky robot to sniff Endeavour's rim

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

NASA’s exploration rover Opportunity entered its historic ninth year of service on Mars today, having already driven over 21 miles and helped boffins make groundbreaking scientific discoveries on the unforgiving world.

The roving robot touched down in Eagle Crater on the Red Planet on 25 January 2004, three weeks after its twin Spirit, which NASA lost contact with in 2010.

Opportunity got off to a cracking start: it found evidence of a “wet environment” and completed its three-month mission as originally planned, but the plucky bot wasn’t done there.

In 2008, Opportunity set course for the 14-mile-wide Endeavour Crater, an area of Mars rich in geological deposits from a much earlier period than anything it had come across before.

Three years later it finally arrived at the site and struck gold almost straightaway, with the discovery of a hydrated calcium sulfate vein that provided the clearest proof yet that water once flowed on Mars.

Opportunity is now taking a breather for its fifth Martian winter, sitting on the sun-facing outcrop of Greeley Haven which will allow its dust laden solar panels to suck up enough Sun juice to keep it active.

The rover will stay there until mid-2012, said NASA, gathering data on iron-containing minerals, monitoring wind changes at various scales and trying to work out whether the interior of the planet is molten.

Opportunity’s next perilous-sounding trip in mid-2012 will be to seek out clay along the edge of Martian crater Endeavour. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.