opportunity mars exploration mars exploration rover. ... retrorockets and the lander was dropped...

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  • 1

    Vehicles

    Mars Operations

    Reference Information

    Assembly, Test and Launch

    Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover

    Status

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    MER and Mars Pathfinder Rovers at JPL

    Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Engineering

    Rover Model

    Spirit

    Spirit and Opportunity during assembly and test at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory shown with the Mars Pathfinder engineering model rover (first to operate on Mars in July 1997).

    Opportunity

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    MER Spacecraft/Rover Stack-upMER-A spacecraft atop the Delta II launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral, FL.

    MER-A Spacecraft with Spirit Rover in Aeroshell

    Stage III

    Stage II

    Payload Fairing Half

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    MER-B/Opportunity Rover LaunchMER-B spacecraft launched by the Delta II 7925H at Pad 17-B, Cape Canaveral, FL on July 7, 2003.

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    1. The cruise stage of the MER-B spacecraft propelled the vehicle from Earth to Mars. The entry vehicle entered the Martian atmosphere and then the parachute slowed the vehicle during entry, descent, and landing. The lander is a protective shell that enclosed the rover and with the airbags protected the rover from the forces of impact. Descent was halted by retrorockets and the lander was dropped 30 ft to the surface.

    2. Airbags cushioned the spacecraft during landing allowing it to bounce across the Martian surface. The airbags were inflated seconds before touchdown and deflated once safely on the surface.

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    3. After the lander stopped bouncing and rolling on the surface, it came to rest on the base of the tetrahedron or one of its three sides. The sides then opened to make the base horizontal and the rover upright. The sides initially opened to an equally flat position, so all sides of the lander were straight and level. The flight team on Earth then commanded the rover to adjust the sides and create a safe path for the rover to drive off the lander and onto the Martian surface.

    Entry Vehicle and Lander

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/Rocket_assisted_descent.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/Rocket_assisted_descent.jpg

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    Rover

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    First Look from Opportunity on MarsJanuary 25, 2004 - Opportunity lands halfway around Mars from Spirit rover

    January 25, 2004 - This mosaic image is one of the first sent to Earth from Opportunity shortly after it landed at Meridiani Planum about 15.5 miles downrange (east) of its intended target. The image was captured by the rover's navigation camera.

    Although Meridiani is a flat plain, without the rock fields seen at previous Mars landing sites, Opportunity rolled into an impact crater 72 ft in diameter and about 6 ft deep, with the rim of the crater approximately 32 ft from the rover. NASA scientists were so excited about landing in the crater that they called the landing a hole in one; however, they were not aiming for the crater (or even knew it existed). Later, the crater was named Eagle Crater and the landing site designated Challenger Memorial Station. The landing site was the darkest ever visited by a spacecraft on Mars. It would be two weeks before Opportunity was able to get a better look at its surroundings.

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    Evidence of Martian Water Discovered

    March 26, 2004 - This image from Opportunity's panoramic camera is an approximate true-color rendering of the rock called the Berry Bowl in the Eagle Crater outcrop. The study of this blueberry-strewn area and the identification of hematite as the major iron-bearing element within these sphere-like grains helped scientists confirm their hypothesis that the hematite in these Martian spherules was deposited in water.

    March 8, 2004 - The first outcrop rock Opportunity examined with the microscopic imager was finely-layered, buff-colored and in the process of being eroded by windblown sand. Embedded and on top of the rock, like blueberries in a muffin, were small spherical grains about 0.06 inches in size. The image shows the gray spheres that have weathered out of the rock and are resting in the darker soil. Through intense investigations with the spectrometers, scientists determined the blueberries are rich in the mineral hematite. On Earth, hematite often forms in the presence of liquid water. These blueberries helped scientists determine that the rocks at Eagle Crater had been soaked in water.

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    Opportunity Finds More Evidence of WaterMarch, 2004 - This image taken by the Opportunity panoramic camera shows the rock called El Capitan, just right of center, in the upper portion of the outcrop in Eagle Crater. El Capitan was a significant find because it provided clues to lead scientists to believe the entire outcrop in Eagle Crater was once covered in water.

    This image shows fine, parallel lamination in the upper area of the rock, that also contains scattered sphere-shaped objects ranging from 0.04 to 0.24 inches in size. There are also more abundant, scattered vugs, or small cavities, that are shaped like discs. These are about 0.4 inches long. The rover's Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer uses infrared detectors to determine the mineral composition of rocks and soil. The spectrometer showed that El Capitan contains a considerable amount of sulfate. The Mssbauer Spectrometer identified the mineral jarosite, which contains water in the form of hydroxyl.

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    Evidence of a Martian Sea Found

    March 23, 2004 - A magnified view of the rock Upper Dells provides evidence that Opportunity sits on the shoreline of what was once a salty sea on Mars. Rippled patterns in the rocks at Meridiani Planum suggest the land was once a salt flat, sometimes covered by shallow water and sometimes dry. Telltale patterns called crossbedding and festooning, in which some layers within a rock lie at angles to the main layers, led scientists to the conclusion that the rippled shapes formed under a current of water and not wind.

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    Eagle Crater Panorama Captured

    April 14, 2004 - Opportunity surveys the dusty plain of Meridiani. This image is an approximate true-color panorama mosaic showing Eagle Crater and some of the surrounding plains of Meridiani Planum. This panorama depicts a story of exploration including the rover's landing craft, a thorough examination of the outcrop, a study of the soils at the near-side of the lander, and a successful exit from Eagle Crater.

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    First Look at Endurance Crater

    May 6, 2004 - This approximate true-color mosaic taken by the Opportunity panoramic camera shows the impact crater Endurance. The crater is about 430 feet in diameter and more than 66 feet deep. Scientists were eager to explore Endurance for clues to Mar's geological history. The crater's exposed walls provided a window to what lies beneath the surface and what geologic processes occurred in the past. The challenge was getting to the scientific targets; most of the crater's rocks are embedded in vertical cliffs. The rover spent six months studying Endurance including descending into the crater and successfully climbing out.

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    July 19, 2004 - This view from the rovers panoramic camera is a false-color composite rendering of the first seven holes that the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) drilled on the inner slope of Endurance Crater. The rover was about 39 feet down into the crater when it acquired the images combined into this mosaic. The view is looking back toward the rim of the crater, with the rover's tracks visible. The tailings around the 1.8 inch diameter holes drilled by the RAT show evidence of fine-grained red hematite similar to what was observed months earlier in Eagle Crater outcrop holes.

    Viewers find it far easier to see the seven holes in this exaggerated color image than in true color; the same is true for scientists who are studying the holes on Earth.Starting from the uppermost pictured (closest to the crater rim) to the lowest, the rock abrasion tool hole targets are called Tennessee, Cobblehill, Virginia, London, Grindstone, Kettlestone, and Drammensfjorden.

    Opportunity Views RAT Hole Trail

    Rover Tracks

    RAT Hole(7 Places)

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    November 13 to 20, 2004 - Opportunity views Burns Cliff after driving to the base of this southeastern portion of the inner wall of Endurance Crater. The wide-angle view makes the cliff walls appear to bulge out toward the camera. In reality the walls form a gently curving, continuous surface.

    Scientists analyzed data from stacked sedimentary rock layers 23 feet thick that were exposed inside Endurance Crater, identifying three divisions within the stack. The lowest, oldest portion had the signature of dry sand dunes. The middle portion had an environment of windblown sheets of sand with all the particles produced in part by previous evaporation of liquid water. The upper portion corresponded to layers Opportunity had found inside a smaller crater near its landing site. Scientists found that the materials in all three divisions were wet both before and after the layers were deposited by either wind or water.

    Burns Cliff Wide-Angle View

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    Opportunity Heatshield Impact Site Investigated

    December 28, 2004 - This mosaic was acquired shortly after Opportunity arrived at the site where its heatshield hit the ground south of Endurance Crater on January 24, 2004. The heatshield was part of the aeroshell supplied by Lockheed Martin in Denver, CO.

    The mosaic of images taken by the panoramic camera are approximate true-color. On the left, the main heatshield piece is inverted and reveals its metallic insulation layer, glinting in the sunlight. The main piece stands about 3.3 feet high and lies about 43 feet fro