Aug 3, 2009 | 3
The indefatigable Opportunity rover, still motoring across the Red Planet five years into its mission, recently came across what may be a large meteorite sitting on the Martian surface.
The 0.6-meter rock, dubbed Block Island [detail below], would not be the first meteorite discovered on Mars by the rover, but would be notable for its size. Block Island is nearly twice as long as the meteorite known colloquially as Heat Shield Rock and formally designated Meridiani Planum, which Opportunity spotted in 2005. That meteorite was the first to be found on another planet and remains the only one formally accepted by the Meteoritical Society. (Meridiani Planum was found on a plain of the same name; the Meteoritical Society's convention is to name meteorites for a nearby geographic feature.)
Apr 14, 2009 | 8
Spirit, one of the twin Mars rovers that have patrolled the Red Planet since 2004, appears to have suffered another glitchy episode. The rover team is trying to figure out why Spirit rebooted itself at least twice over the weekend; in January the rover perplexed its handlers when it failed to respond to commands and did not record its activities for a spell.
As the rover bounced information to and from Earth, some of its communications were interrupted; Spirit appears to have rebooted while it was using an antenna that allows direct contact with Earth.
"While we don't have an explanation yet" for the glitches, Spirit appears to be fully powered and within its temperature bounds, project manager John Callas of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "The rover is in a stable operations state called automode and taking care of itself. It could stay in this stable mode for some time if necessary while we diagnose the problem."
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