Opportunity Rover Celebrates 5000 Days on Mars With a New Discovery
According to a NASA press release, the old rover, an earlier model of the more popular Curiosity rover (and soon, the even more advanced Mars 2020 rover) just celebrated a milestone of 5,000 Martian days - called "sols," which are just 40 minutes longer than an Earth day. And on top of that, it found something interesting.
You ain't seen nothing yet. Even at 5,000 days into a 90-day mission, Opportunity continues to make scientific discoveries, like these rock stripes on Mars: https://t.co/yxsaB7jW96 pic.twitter.com/1ujzJmce1u— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) February 16, 2018
While traversing an area of Mars called Perseverance Valley, Opportunity observed what appear to be "rock stripes," which don't sound too interesting until you consider how this phenomenon is usually formed on Earth: through the freezing and thawing of wet soil. Which suggests that at some point in the past, water was present here.
But water isn't the only cause of rock stripes, which can also form from wind or downhill transport, so more research needs to be done. And since Opportunity is still in excellent condition, it certainly seems like more research is on the way. According to Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson, who said the following in a different press release:
While Curiosity is examining tube objects on another part of the Red Planet, Opportunity will be staying in Perseverance Valley, a crater-speckled area with some mysterious origins, as many researchers aren't entirely sure how it formed right now. And the rock stripes could possibly provide some answers, especially if they point to water being involved.
But it's just another day out of 5,000 for Opportunity.
Teen Life: Now 14-year-old Opportunity celebrates 5,000 sols on Mars with first full #selfie.— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) February 17, 2018
These frames from the Microscopic Imager at the end of the rover's robotic arm were used to create the photomontage: https://t.co/4duaH8SHmX pic.twitter.com/X5J1yys7Wn