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NASA's Veteran Mars Rover Ready to Start 10th Year
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 23, 2013

Timed with the anniversary of the landing, the rover team has prepared a color panorama of the Matijevic Hill area. To view full panorama please go here.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, one of the twin rovers that bounced to airbag-cushioned safe landings on Mars nine years ago this week, is currently examining veined rocks on the rim of an ancient crater.

Opportunity has driven 22.03 miles (35.46 kilometers) since it landed in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars on Jan. 24, 2004, PST (Jan. 25, Universal Time). Its original assignment was to keep working for three months, drive about 2,000 feet (600 meters) and provide the tools for researchers to investigate whether the area's environment had ever been wet.

It landed in a backyard-size bowl, Eagle Crater. During those first three months, it transmitted back to Earth evidence that water long ago soaked the ground and flowed across the surface.

Since then, the mission's team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has driven Opportunity across the plains of Meridiani to successively larger craters for access to material naturally exposed from deeper, older layers of Martian history.

Opportunity has operated on Mars 36 times longer than the three months planned as its prime mission.

"What's most important is not how long it has lasted or even how far it has driven, but how much exploration and scientific discovery Opportunity has accomplished," said JPL's John Callas, manager of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project. The project has included both Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, which ceased operations in 2010.

This month, Opportunity is using cameras on its mast and tools on its robotic arm to investigate outcrops on the rim of Endeavour Crater, 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

Results from this area of the rim, called "Matijevic Hill," are providing information about a different, possibly older wet environment, less acidic than the conditions that left clues the rover found earlier in the mission.


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Opportunity Investigating Light-toned Veins in Rock Outcrop
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 22, 2013
Opportunity is on the inboard edge of "Cape York" on the rim of Endeavour Crater, now engaged in in-situ (contact) science investigation of veins in the light-toned outcrop "Whitewater Lake," a place the rover visited previously. On Sol 3187 (Jan. 10, 2013), the rover bumped a little over a meter to reach the vein targets in the outcrop, named "Ortiz." On Sol 3189 (Jan. 12, 2013), Opportun ... read more

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