Tag Archives: Opportunity

Opportunity’s Mars Analemma 


Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/ASU/TAMU

Staring up into the martian sky, the Opportunity rover captured an image at 11:02 AM local mean time nearly every 3rd sol, or martian day, for 1 martian year. Of course, the result is this martian analemma, a curve tracing the Sun’s motion through the sky in the course of a year (668 sols) on the Red Planet. Spanning Earth dates from July, 16, 2006 to June 2, 2008 the images are shown composited in this zenith-centered, fisheye projection. North is at the top surrounded by a panoramic sky and landscape made in late 2007 from inside Victoria crater. The tinted martian sky is blacked out around the analemma images to clearly show the Sun’s positions. Unlike Earth’s figure-8-shaped analemma, Mars’ analemma is pear-shaped, because of its similar axial tilt but more elliptical orbit. When Mars is farther from the Sun, the Sun progresses slowly in the martian sky creating the pointy top of the curve. When close to the Sun and moving quickly, the apparent solar motion is stretched into the rounded bottom. For several sols some of the frames are missing due to rover operations and dust storms.

NASA APOD 16-May-14

Jelly Donut Shaped Rock Appears on Mars

Image Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA
Explanation: What if a rock that looked like a jelly donut suddenly appeared on Mars? That’s just what happened in front of the robotic Opportunity rover currently exploring the red planet. The unexpectedly placed rock,pictured above, was imaged recently by Opportunity after not appearing in other images taken as recently as twelve Martian days (sols) before. Given the intriguing mystery, the leading explanation is somewhat tame — the rock was recently scattered by one of the rover’s tires. Even so, the rock’s unusual light tones surrounding a red interior created interest in its composition — as well as causing it to be nicknamed Jelly Donut. A subsequent chemical analysis showed the rock has twice the abundance of manganese than any other rock yet examined — an unexpected clue that doesn’t yet fit into humanity’s understanding of the Martian geologic history.Opportunity, just passing its 10-year anniversary on Mars, continues to explore the Murray Ridge section of the rim of 22-kilometer wide Endeavor Crater.

NASA APOD 29-Jan-2014

Opportunity’s Decade on Mars

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State U.

Explanation: On January 25 (UT) 2004, the Opportunity rover fell to Mars, making today the 10th anniversary of its landing. After more than 3,500 sols (Mars solar days) the golf cart-sized robot from Earth is still activelyexploring the Red Planet, though its original mission plan was for three months. This self-portrait was made with Opportunity’s panoramic camera earlier this month. The camera’s supporting mast has been edited out of the image mosaic but its shadow is visible on the dusty solar panels arrayed across the rover’s deck. For comparison, a similar self-portrait from late 2004 is shown in the inset. Having driven some 39 kilometers (24 miles) from its landing site, Opportunity now rests at Solander Point at the rim of Endeavour Crater.

NASA APOD 25-Jan-2014