[meteorite-list] Opportunity Rover Takes on Steepest Slope Ever Tried on Mars
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2016 16:35:01 -0700 (PDT)
Rover Takes on Steepest Slope Ever Tried on Mars
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
March 31, 2016
NASA's long-lived Mars rover Opportunity is driving to an alternative
hillside target after a climb on the steepest slope ever tackled by any
Mars rover. Opportunity could not quite get within reach of a target researchers
hoped the rover could touch earlier this month.
A new image shows the view overlooking the valley below and catches the
rover's own shadow and wheel tracks as Opportunity heads toward its next
The rover's tilt hit 32 degrees on March 10 while Opportunity was making
its closest approach to an intended target near the crest of "Knudsen
Engineers anticipated that Opportunity's six aluminum wheels would slip
quite a bit during the uphill push, so they commanded many more wheel
rotations than would usually be needed to travel the intended distance.
Results from the drive were received in the next relayed radio report
from the rover: The wheels did turn enough to have carried the rover about
66 feet (20 meters) if there had been no slippage, but slippage was so
great the vehicle progressed only about 3.5 inches (9 centimeters). This
was the third attempt to reach the target and came up a few inches short.
The rover team reached a tough decision to skip that target and move on.
Both the intended target near the top of the ridge and the current target
area farther west are on the hillside forming the southern edge of "Marathon
Valley," which slices east-west across the raised western rim of Endeavour
Crater. Both targets are in areas where mineral-mapping observations by
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have identified clay minerals, which
form in the presence of water.
The March 10 drive surpassed Opportunity's own previous record for the
steepest slope ever driven by any Mars rover. That record was accomplished
while Opportunity was approaching "Burns Cliff" about nine months after
the mission's January 2004 landing on Mars.
In eight drives between the steepest-ever drive and March 31, Opportunity
first backed downhill, northward, for about 27 feet (8.2 meters), then
drove about 200 feet (about 60 meters) generally southwestward and uphill,
toward the next target area.
For more information about Opportunity, visit:
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov
Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo at nasa.gov
Received on Thu 31 Mar 2016 07:35:01 PM PDT