Friday, October 25, 2013

Don't forget Oppy

The Mars Rover Opportunity is still reliably in action.  Controllers (despite the government shutdown) have situated it such that it will be in an advantageous orientation facing the Sun while it explores new territory, and will apparently be able to keep going even during the Martian winter -- with scheduled rest breaks to recharge its batteries.

Pretty remarkable for a robot. They're still looking for the mother lode of clay minerals, apparently.

Mars Rover Opportunity heads uphill

Key targets on the ridge include clay-bearing rocks identified from observations by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, which is on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The observations were specially designed to yield mineral maps with enhanced spatial resolution.

This segment of the crater's rim stands much higher than "Cape York," a segment to the north that Opportunity investigated for 20 months beginning in mid-2011.

"At Cape York, we found fantastic things," Squyres said. "Gypsum veins, clay-rich terrain, the spherules we call newberries. We know there are even larger exposures of clay-rich materials where we're headed. They might look like what we found at Cape York or they might be completely different."

Good luck, and keep on truckin'.

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