NASA rover prepares for 5th winter on Mars

Dec 07, 2011 By ALICIA CHANG , AP Science Writer
This image provided by NASA shows a fragment along the rim of Endeavour Crater where the Mars rover Opportunity has been exploring since August. With Martian winter approaching, Opportunity has been in search of a spot to spend the winter. (AP Photo/NASA)

NASA's lone surviving Mars rover has been busy exploring its surroundings since it rolled up to its latest crater destination four months ago. Now the solar-powered, six-wheel Opportunity is in search of a place to hunker down for the winter.

The robot geologist has been scouting out sites along the crater rim that not only have interesting rocks to examine but also ample sunshine. The hardy rover survived four previous Martian winters. Scientists expect no different and even drew up a to-do list.

Opportunity will "keep active all winter long," said Bruce Banerdt, rover project scientist at NASA headquarters.

Among its chores: studying bedrock and soil at its chosen winter site. While Opportunity can drive short distances from one outcrop to another, it can't venture far in the cold.

It's a bittersweet juncture for Opportunity, which along with its twin, Spirit, landed on opposite sides of the red planet in January 2004. Both operated beyond their original three-month mission and found geologic evidence that Mars was warmer and wetter than it is today.

Spirit suddenly stopped communicating with Earth last year, shortly after it became stuck in fluffy sand. NASA diligently listened for any sign from Spirit and finally gave up this past spring.

Despite Spirit's demise, Opportunity continued to trek across the Martian plains and arrived at the western rim of Endeavour Crater in August. The rover has wowed scientists with discoveries at the site, which includes rocks and soil unlike any it has encountered during its years roaming the planet.

Opportunity recently uncovered a mineral deposit that formed from water flowing out of volcanic rocks.

Chief scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University called it the "single most powerful piece of evidence" that Opportunity has found so far of liquid water existing on Mars long ago.

The finding was presented Wednesday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

With a little over 21 miles on its odometer, Opportunity is showing some wear, including an arthritic shoulder, but is otherwise in good health.

"It's going on eight years, but we're not done yet," said Ray Arvidson, the mission deputy scientist from Washington University in St. Louis.

Opportunity will soon get some company on the surface. NASA launched its latest spacecraft to Mars last month, a mega-rover named Curiosity that's set to land next summer.

The $2.5 billion mission will study a mountain inside a crater to determine whether the environment was conducive for microbial life.

Explore further: Mysteries of space dust revealed

More information: Mars mission: http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html

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210
3.3 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2011
WOWW! This thing...was supposed to last 90 days, ya'll remember that? Now, it is looking for real estate to locate its 'winter Home.' And, how many winters does that make?!? The contractors and engineers on THIS project deserve the freakin' Hall of Fame!
SuperBowl rings for professional American Football teams run about $30,000 some say as much as $60,000...EACH.. Everyone involved in this project deserves extraordinary praise and a SuperBowl ring that goes around their waist!

word-to-ya-muthas
Blakut
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
They always make the probes last more than the project. It's how it works.
Hengine
Dec 07, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MarkyMark
1 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
Get a room guys!
210
1 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
WOWW! This thing...was supposed to last 90 days, ya'll remember that? Now, it is looking for real estate to locate its 'winter Home.' And, how many winters does that make?!? The contractors and engineers on THIS project deserve the freakin' Hall of Fame!
SuperBowl rings for professional American Football teams run about $30,000 some say as much as $60,000...EACH.. Everyone involved in this project deserves extraordinary praise and a SuperBowl ring that goes around their waist!

word-to-ya-muthas

And now...THIS:
http://www.physor...ted.html
What if we humans made shoes, cars, and marriages that were this enduring...?!
word-
that_guy
3 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
Poor little opportunity. Just give us five more miles of good science, and THEN we will go ahead and bring you home.

What's that? We told you that 5 miles ago? Don't worry about it, you must have been mistaken. But this time it really is only five more miles. This time, we'll definitely come pick you up.

Spirit? What about spirit? Don't worry about spirit. It has nothing to do with you.
that_guy
3 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
And now...THIS:
http://www.physor...ted.html
What if we humans made shoes, cars, and marriages that were this enduring...?!
word-

What if we made a car that cost 2 million dollars, lasted 6 years but only drove during the summer and not the winter, and didn't need any maintenance?

I'm not sure your question made sense.
210
1 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2011
And now...THIS:
http://www.physor...ted.html
What if we humans made shoes, cars, and marriages that were this enduring

What if we made a car that cost 2 million dollars, lasted 6 years but only drove during the summer and not the winter, and didn't need any maintenance?
I'm not sure your question made sense.
OK. Let me help U. This 'car' had 2 fly FIRST, 2 another planet yet. It endures climate extremes that would leave U, the driver dead, not just Brain-dead, a condition that found you anyway here on good old earth. It has had NO regular maint., no toasty garage, no wax jobs, no repairs of any kind, no new tires or solar panels, or batteries, etc. On a planet whose harsh conditions & atmosphere dont protect it from radiation of any kind, unlike here. Any car U buy, the rest of your life; WILL B cheap, and tuff! Bad neighborhoods, drive by killings, bank robbery get aways, trip 2 morgue 4 dates/sex, U go boy!
word-
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (48) Dec 09, 2011
I'm not sure your question made sense.


LMAO what isn't there to be sure about? 210 tends to make as much sense as Pirouette, but hey, at least he isn't arrogant!

That's a big plus.
210
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
I'm not sure your question made sense.

LMAO what isn't there to be sure about? 210 tends to make as much sense as Pirouette, but hey, at least he isn't arrogant!
That's a big plus.

Franky-dude YOU cannot....EVER..."LMAO" Cause if U did...there would B NOTHING left of YOU!!! This would tend to anger your mother since then she would realize she raised an "A" HOLE who then laughed himself into becoming a whopping big NOTHING!

word-to-ya-poor-mutha!