Essay on The Mars Exploration Rover Mission

Essay on The Mars Exploration Rover Mission

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched two similar twin robotic rovers, which were Spirit and Opportunity toward Mars on 10 June and 7 July 2003 (NASA 2012). Spirit and Opportunity landed in Gusev Crater on 4 January 2004 and in Meridiani Planum on 25 January 2004 respectively (NASA 2012). Opportunity is still operating and roving after 10 years on the Martian surface while final communication of Spirit to the Earth took place on 22 March 2010, which is around six years into its mission (NASA 2012). The rovers were thought to last 20 times longer as compared to its original design. As part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, the Mars Exploration Rover mission is a continuing multi-mission effort to study Mars as a possible habitation for past or present life and to look for signs of life as well as to prepare for human exploration. Primary objective of the Mars Exploration Rover mission is to explore and characterize a wide range of soils and rocks that possess clues or evidences to past water activity on Mars (NASA 2012).

It is hard to get to Mars and it is even harder to land on Mars, thus Spirit and Opportunity had to overcome numerous challenges in order to land on Mars and to carry out their missions. These two rovers were required to fly through approximately 483 million kilometers of deep space and a very precise landing spot had to be targeted (Jet Propulsion Laboratory 2011). Although their flight paths can be adjusted along the way, however, a minor trajectory mistake can lead to a big detour and/or complete missing of the planet. Besides that, the environment of space is full of hazards that are addressed as “single event upsets”, as when a stray particle of energy goes through a chip in the ...


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...cience, vol. 305, no. 5685, pp. 829-832.
• Goodrich, LJ, Mitchell, NL, Walker, R, Shaffrey MM and Dillin, K 2010, Exploring Space: The High Frontier, Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC, USA
• Jet Propulsion Laboratory 2011, Challenges of Getting to Mars, viewed 11 May 2014, http://marsrover.nasa.gov/spotlight/challengesRover01.html
• Kalvius, M and Kienle, P 2012, The Rudolf Mössbauer Story: His Scientific Work and Its Impact on Science and History, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, New York
• NASA 2012, Mars Artwork, viewed 16 May 2014, http://marsrover.nasa.gov/gallery/artwork/hires/descent.jpg
• NASA 2012, The Mars Exploration Rovers: Spirit and Opportunity, viewed 11 May 2014, http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/resources/MERLithograph.pdf
• NASA 2013, Spirit examines its surroundings, viewed 16 May 2014, http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/posters/SpiritPosterBack.pdf

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