NASA's Opportunity rover completes 5000 days on Mars, celebrates by taking selfie

Pablo Tucker
February 19, 2018

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover's 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on February 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene.

When NASA's Opportunity rover first landed on Mars in 2004, it was expected to last around three months before it inevitably broke down and wasted away on the Martian surface. Spirit, for example, found what appears to be an ancient hydrothermal system, where hot water flowed and bubbled through rock.

Commenting on this, Ray Arvidson, Washington University in St. Louis and Deputy Principle Investigator of Opportunity stated "It's mysterious".

Previous NASA rovers have included calibration targets as well.

Close-up of a slice of a meteorite scientists have determined came from Mars. One of two slices will be used for testing a laser instrument for NASA's Mars 2020 rover while it's still on Earth the other slice will go to Mars onboard the rover. (NASA  JPL

Textured rows on the ground in this portion of "Perseverance Valley" are under investigation by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which used its Navigation Camera to take the component images of this downhill-looking scene.

"We already knew it was unlike any place any Mars rover has seen before, even if we don't yet know how it formed, and now we're seeing surfaces that look like stone stripes", Arvidson added.

Nasa's "veteran" Opportunity rover has achieved a major milestone as it completes 5,000 days (sols) on Mars.

A day on Earth last little above 24 hours while the day on Mars termed as "sol" last 40 minutes longer than Earth.

Opportunity rover's Project manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement, "Five thousand sols after the start of our 90-sol mission, this unbelievable rover is still showing us surprises on Mars". "I think the set of observations we'll get will enable us to understand it".

Opportunity has traversed slightly more than 28 miles (45 km) from its landing site in Meridiani Planum, an area with mineral deposits that indicate a wet history.

Researchers tested several meteorite samples, cutting off thin sections to see whether they would crumble, as using a "flaky" sample could damage the entire meteorite in the process.

On some inclinations in the Perseverance Valley, there have been found some gravel and sand particles taking the forms of narrow rows that alternate with wider rows. Most importantly, it will start the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), aiming to find the best ways for humans to create oxygen on Mars.

The origin of the whole valley is uncertain.

Other lines of evidence have convinced Mars experts that, on a scale of hundreds of thousands of years, Mars goes through cycles when the tilt or obliquity of its axis increases so much that some of the water now frozen at the poles vaporizes into the atmosphere and then becomes snow or frost accumulating nearer the equator.

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