Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Home Lead Story Know How NASA's Opportunity Mars Rover Enriched Space Science

Know How NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover Enriched Space Science

The rover discovered the first meteorite on Mars, sitting near its own heat shield and was the first to identify and characterise sedimentary rocks on a planet other than Earth."

Designed to last just 90 days and travel 1,000 metres on Martian landscape, NASA’s Opportunity rover outlived its mission lifetime by more than 14 years to become the longest lasting robot sent from Earth and the first wheeled vehicle off Earth to log a drive distance of over 45 kms.

Before its mission came to an end on Wednesday, the solar-powered and golf cart-sized rover that landed on Mars in January 2004 spent 15 years exploring details about Martian landscapes and confirmed that the Red planet once had abundant surface water and its conditions may have been habitable for some period of time in Martian history.

The rover discovered the first meteorite on Mars, sitting near its own heat shield and was the first to identify and characterise sedimentary rocks on a planet other than Earth.

NASA
NASA’s Opportunity rover also found round, bluish stones that contained the minerals hematite and jarosite, which only form when rocks are exposed to acidic water. Pixabay

“For more than a decade, Opportunity has been an icon in the field of planetary exploration, teaching us about Mars’ ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet, and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes,” Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.

The Opportunity rover was launched alongside Spirit as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration mission. While Spirit landed at Gusev Crater on January 4, 2004, Opportunity landed on the opposite side of Mars at Meridiani Planum on January 24, 2004. Spirit logged about eight kms before its mission came to an end nine years ago.

NASA’s Opportunity rover also found round, bluish stones that contained the minerals hematite and jarosite, which only form when rocks are exposed to acidic water.

The rover also exposed the surfaces of 52 rocks to reveal fresh mineral surfaces for analysis.

NASA
For instance, the rover’s right-front wheel sometimes drew more current than the other wheels, so engineers often drove the rover backward to extend the right front wheel’s life. Pixabay

It returned more than 217,000 images, including fifteen 360-degree colour panoramas.

The fifteen years that Opportunity spent on the Red Planet had been full of challenges that required its engineers to be resourceful.

For instance, the rover’s right-front wheel sometimes drew more current than the other wheels, so engineers often drove the rover backward to extend the right front wheel’s life.

Since the terrain was treacherous, its wheels slipped on the loose slopes when it first attempted to drive out of Eagle Crater.

Again on April 26, 2005, Opportunity’s wheels dug into a soft, wind-sculpted sand ripple and got stuck for several nail-biting weeks at “Purgatory Dune.”

Also Read: House Votes to Cut Off U.S. Military Assistance to Saudi-Led Coalition Fighting in Yemen

The rover also encountered two mission-threatening dust storms that blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels. It survived a dust storm in 2007 by minimising activities and maintaining enough power in its batteries to recover when the skies cleared.

Unfortunately, the 2018 dust storm that it encountered blotted out even more sunlight and kept the skies above Opportunity dark about a month longer.

The rover last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018. It has not been heard from for eight months since then.

NASA, which is planning to send humans to the Red Planet sometime in the future, will send the next Mars rover in 2020 to continue seeking the signs of life on Mars. (IANS)

STAY CONNECTED

18,992FansLike
362FollowersFollow
1,781FollowersFollow

Most Popular

Here’s How you can Manage Flu at Home

The monsoon has begun, and while it brings relief from summer heat it also brings perils of humidity. With the rain showers comes the...

Top Selection Criteria for a Voltage Stabilizer

In our power grids, voltage fluctuation is a common phenomenon. But it also is a concerning one as it can harm sensitive electrical appliances...

Dalai Lama Turns 85, Tibetans Dedicate Year 2020 to him

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also known as Tibetan government-in-exile, on Monday announced to dedicate this year...

Here’s What to Expect When You Catch a Flight from the Airport

Hustling sounds, frequent announcements, savvy travelers glued to their gadgets, emotional families waiting to receive or see-off their loved ones-- it's perhaps the opening...

A Must have Adventure Bucket List

The worldwide lockdown due to coronavirus has brought a screeching halt to every industry, including the travel and hospitality. With restrictions on international travel...

Picture Perfect Living Room Decor Ideas

A cosy and comfortable sofa set, a coffee table for tete-a-tete and a perfect TV unit to keep the entertainment mode on, all these...

‘Covid’ Now the most Searched Word of 2020

The term 'Covid' - the commonly used shorthand for Covid-19 or Coronavirus disease caused by the SARS CoV-2 virus - is the top word...

Beauty of Indian Culture: William Dalrymple on his Experience Living in India

India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations with the oldest culture in the World. The Indian culture varies like its...

Recent Comments