Opportunity Rover Celebrates 5000 Days on Mars With a New Discovery

Friday, 16 February 2018 - 8:57PM
Space
Mars
NASA
Friday, 16 February 2018 - 8:57PM
Opportunity Rover Celebrates 5000 Days on Mars With a New Discovery
< >
NASA/JPL/Cornell University
When NASA's Opportunity rover first landed on Mars in 2004, it was expected to last around three months before it inevitably broke down and wasted away on the Martian surface. Thirteen years later, it's still functioning perfectly.

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. 




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:

Opening quote
"Perseverance Valley is a special place, like having a new mission again after all these years. We already knew it was unlike any place any Mars rover has seen before, even if we don't yet know how it formed, and now we're seeing surfaces that look like stone stripes. It's mysterious. It's exciting. I think the set of observations we'll get will enable us to understand it."
Closing quote




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.


Science
Science News
Space
Mars
NASA
No