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Monday, December 12, 2005


Happy Anniversary Opportunity

Panoramic camera image of sedimentary rock along the northwestern margin of "Erebus" crater. Some of these sediments were laid down in shallow water. Image credit NASA
Today (December 12) Opportunity has been on Mars for a full Martian year. As I write, Mars rides three fingerwidths from the waxing Moon, peeking out between the wind tossed clouds (remember how yesterday it was 38 deg C? Today it's 18 C and markedly chilly with telescope shaking winds that frustrate an anniversary observation of Mars). Opportunity and Spirit have outlasted their 90 day design specifications to take magnificent panoramas, film whirling dust devils and provide definitive evidence that liquid water once flowed (or seeped) on Mars. Opportunity is poised on the edge of Erebus crater, ready to examine a wealth of sedimentary layers and explore more of Mars's hydrological history. Unfortunately, Opportunities robotic arm is stuck. Unless it can be unstuck, the amount of information it can reveal will be limited.

Still, it can keep on taking great pictures and do other science experiments, and it has done so much already. Opportunity and Spirit, I salute you.

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