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.)
May 12, 2009 | 3
The Mars rover Spirit has suffered through many hardships in its five years on the forbidding planet, outliving the scope of its original mission by more than 20 times in the process.
But now Spirit faces a new and tricky challenge—its wheels have partly sunk into a patch of soft soil. The rover's controllers have put a halt to driving operations while they try to figure out how to get it unstuck.
"Spirit is in a very difficult situation," John Callas, project manager for the rovers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement yesterday. "We are proceeding methodically and cautiously. It may be weeks before we try moving Spirit again." A JPL spokesperson said today that the rover's condition had not changed.
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