Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Outstanding Opportunity Rover Making ‘Amazing New Discoveries’ 13 Years After Mars Touchdown

New post on Universe Today

Outstanding Opportunity Rover Making 'Amazing New Discoveries' 13 Years After Mars Touchdown

by Ken Kremer

13 Years on Mars!
On Christmas Day 2016, NASA's Opportunity rover scans around vast Endeavour crater as she ascends steep rocky slopes on the way to reach a water carved gully along the eroded craters western rim. This navcam camera photo mosaic was assembled from raw images taken on Sol 4593 (25 Dec. 2016) and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

NASA's truly outstanding Opportunity rover continues "making new discoveries about ancient Mars" as she commemorates 13 Years since bouncing to a touchdown on Mars, in a feat that is "truly amazing" - the deputy chief scientist Ray Arvidson told Universe Today exclusively.

Resilient Opportunity celebrated her 13th birthday on Sol 4623 on January 24, 2017 PST while driving south along the eroded rim of humongous Endeavour crater - and having netted an unfathomable record for longevity and ground breaking scientific discoveries about the watery environment of the ancient Red Planet.

"Reaching the 13th year anniversary with a functioning rover making new discoveries about ancient Mars on a continuing basis is truly amazing," Ray Arvidson, Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator of Washington University in St. Louis, told Universe Today.

Put another way Opportunity is 13 YEARS into her 3 MONTH mission! And still going strong!

Indeed she is 51 times beyond her "warrantied" life expectancy of merely 90 Sols promised at the time of landing so long ago - roving the surface of the 4th rock from the Sun during her latest extended mission; #10.

How was this incredible accomplishment achieved?

"Simply a well-made and thoroughly tested American vehicle," Arvidson responded.

The six wheeled rover landed on Mars on January 24, 2004 PST on the alien Martian plains at Meridiani Planum -as the second half of a sister act.
Her twin sister Spirit, had successfully touched down 3 weeks earlier on January 3, 2004 inside Gusev crater and survived more than six years.
As of today, Jan 31, 2017, long lived Opportunity has survived 4630 Sols (or Martian days) roving the harsh environment of the Red Planet.

Opportunity has taken over 216,700 images and traversed over 27.12 miles (43.65 kilometers) - more than a marathon.

See our updated route map below.

The rover surpassed the 27 mile mark milestone early last month on November 6 (Sol 4546).

The power output from solar array energy production is currently 414 watt-hours, before heading into another southern hemisphere Martian winter in 2017.

Meanwhile Opportunity's younger sister rover Curiosity traverses and drills into the lower sedimentary layers at the base of Mount Sharp.

Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

13 Year Traverse Map for NASA's Opportunity rover from 2004 to 2017. This map shows the entire 43 kilometer (27 mi) path the rover has driven on the Red Planet during more than 13 years and more than a marathon runners distance for over 4614 Sols, or Martian days, since landing inside Eagle Crater on Jan 24, 2004 - to current location at the western rim of Endeavour Crater. After descending down Marathon Valley and after studying Spirit Mound, the rover is now ascending back uphill on the way to a Martian water carved gully. Rover surpassed Marathon distance on Sol 3968 after reaching 11th Martian anniversary on Sol 3911. Opportunity discovered clay minerals at Esperance – indicative of a habitable zone - and searched for more at Marathon Valley. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/ASU/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Ken Kremer | January 31, 2017 at 11:59 pm | Tags: speech | URL: http://wp.me/p1CHIY-yBm
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BREAKING: Analysis: Neil Gorsuch could lead the Supreme Court to a new conservative era

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  In Neil Gorsuch, a tall, handsome Coloradoan, President Trump plucked an intellectual leader of the next generation of conservative lawyers. Thirty years Antonin Scalia's junior, the 49-year-old Gorsuch would lend a more contemporary, plain-folks brand of judicial conservatism to a court whose right flank is getting old and a bit out of style.


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BREAKING NEWS: President Trump announces Supreme Court nominee

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January 31, 2017 | Updated 5:10 PM PT
  Trump picks appeal court Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court  
Neil Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge known for conservative views on religion and the courts' role and for a judicial philosophy associated with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was nominated Tuesday by President Trump.
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BREAKING: Trump picks federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Supreme Court seat

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  President Trump announced Tuesday that he is nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch, 49, is seen as a natural replacement for Scalia; he is a strict adherent of originalism, Scalia's belief that the Constitution should be interpreted based on the intent of the Founders.


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