Opportunity Mars Rover Preparing for Active Winter

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This Martian stage shows resisting textures and colors of Hinners Point, during a northern corner of Marathon Valley, and swirling reddish zones on a hollow building to a left. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

This Martian stage shows resisting textures and colors of “Hinners Point,” during a northern corner of “Marathon Valley,” and swirling reddish zones on a hollow building to a left. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is conducting a “walkabout” consult of “Marathon Valley,” where a rover’s operators devise to use a car by a arriving Martian winter, and beyond, to investigate a context for outcrops temperament clay minerals.

Marathon Valley slices downhill from west to easterly for about 300 yards or meters by a western corner of Endeavour Crater. Opportunity has been questioning stone targets in a western apportionment of a hollow given late July, operative a approach east in a consummate reconnoitering of a area.

The rover’s breathtaking camera has prisoner a stage dominated by a limit called “Hinners Point,” combining partial of a valley’s northern edge. The picture also shows a apportionment of a hollow building with swirling reddish zones that have been a aim for study.

For several months starting in mid- to late October, a corsair group skeleton to work Opportunity on a southern side of a hollow to take advantage of a sun-facing slope. The site is in Mars’ southern hemisphere, so a object is to a north during tumble and winter days. Tilting a corsair toward a object increases appetite outlay from a solar panels. The shortest-daylight duration of this seventh Martian winter for Opportunity will come in Jan 2016.

“Our expectancy is that Opportunity will be means to sojourn mobile by a winter,” pronounced Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The walkabout is identifying review targets in and nearby a hollow floor. Rocks in reddish zones there enclose some-more silica and reduction iron than many rocks in a area.

“We have investigator work to do in Marathon Valley for many months ahead,” pronounced Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson, of Washington University in St. Louis. “During a Martian late tumble and winter seasons Opportunity will control a measurements and traverses on a southern side of a valley. When open arrives a corsair will lapse to a hollow building for minute measurements of outcrops that might horde a clay minerals.”

Endeavour Crater spans about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter. Opportunity has been study a western corner given 2011. Marathon Valley became a high priority end after a thoroughness of clay minerals called smectites was mapped there formed on observations by a Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Smectites form underneath wetter, milder conditions than many rocks during a Opportunity site. Opportunity is questioning relations among clay-bearing and adjacent deposits for clues about a story of environmental changes.

The corsair group has been traffic for some-more than a year with Opportunity’s bent to bear random mechanism resets when regulating a form of onboard memory that retains information when appetite is off: peep memory. For 3 months until mid-September, operators entirely avoided use of peep memory. In this mode, images and other information can't be stored overnight, when a corsair is powered off to preserve energy. To benefit operational coherence in a trade-off with probable “lost” days from resets, a group has resumed occasional use of peep memory.

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project landed twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in 2004 to start missions designed to final 3 months. Both rovers distant exceeded those plans. Spirit worked for 6 years, and Opportunity is still active. Findings about ancient soppy environments on Mars have come from both rovers. The plan is one component of NASA’s ongoing and destiny Mars missions scheming for a tellurian goal to a world in a 2030s. JPL, a multiplication of a California Institute of Technology, manages a plan for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Source: JPL