13.9.09

Mars Rovers - What are they up to?

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Opportunity pulled a bit of a U-turn back in August, when her controllers realised they'd rolled on past 'the largest meteorite yet found on Mars'. Large enough, in fact, that it would have shattered on impact unless slowed down by the friction of a thicker atmosphere.

The idea that Mars once had a thicker atmosphere (presumed to have been lost because of the planet's relatively low gravity) is not especially controversial, but this meteorite offers us evidence on the kind of time scales we may be looking at. Has it lain on the surface of Mars for billions of years? Or was the Martian atmosphere thicker more recently than we thought? Read more in the official news article.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Spirit, meanwhile, is still stuck, while her friends on Earth continue to experiment with rovers (one equivalent in mass to Spirit, another lightened to mimic her weight on Mars) in their sand pit. While sitting waiting for orders (and weathering a dust storm), she's snapped this panorama of her surroundings.  (Click the thumbnail above to turn on the makebigenator).

1 comment:

diddums said...

She's better at panoramas than I am!