Nasa has created its very own Google Earth for Mars, allowing you to roam the surface of the Red Planet whilst keeping your feet very firmly on Earth. A list of bookmarks makes it easy to spot these on the map, along with path traversals of NASA’s Martian landers.
The time-lapse comprises images obtained by the Mars explorer between January 2004 and April 2005, and shows the rover navigating rough terrains.
But the rover is showing signs of its age. During the Martian winter, Opportunity will still study the valley and its surrounding geological features amidst a sunny region.
Marathon valley on Mars is about the size of 3 football fields in length and generally aligned east west. Observation of the valley has also detected the exposures of clay minerals pointing to wet environmental conditions in the ancient past. Last Tuesday, July 9, the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity successfully completed its first journey on the Red Planet. As the rover continued to operate far beyond expectations for its lifespan, scientists chose the rim of Endeavour Crater as a long-term destination.
Ex- NASA activity on Mars can be plotted and explored on the NASA Mars Trek map, including details about missions like Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, Phoenix, and Sojourner.
The rover is operating in a mode that avoids use of the type of onboard memory – non-volatile flash memory – that can retain data even when power is turned off overnight. The machine is now using RAM memory to save files.
“Flash memory is a convenience but not a necessity for the rover”. John Callas, Opportunity Project Manager, has compared this process with the way a defective refrigerator works – you can only store the food you will eat the same day, so no left-overs.
NASA had begun this mission in 2004 when it had flown and landed twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit on Mars.
Spirit died in 2009, but Opportunity kept trekking for an additional six years, carrying on the baton of scientific exploration.