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Spirit and Opportunity update

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Astronomy

Whatever happened to the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity ? Well, they are still crawling on the surface of Mars. Their initial lifespan of 90 days has been extended several times up to today. Both robots are beginning to show aging but the NASA engineers are trying to keep them up as long as possible.

Here's a little overview of the current location and tracking of both rovers. Spirit continues to make progress toward "Home Plate," a conspicuous circular feature scientists hope to investigate before the Martian winter, in search of layered rock outcrops that may provide additional information about the geology of the "Columbia Hills." During the past week, the rover has driven nearly 100 meters (328 feet), and has still had time to do some targeted remote sensing. Spirit is currently just less than 170 meters (560 feet) from Home Plate.

Opportunity is healthy and is continuing the characterization of an outcrop called "Olympia." The rover is on top of a feature called "Overgaard." The plan is to complete a mosaic with the microscopic imager, then drive toward a feature called "Roosevelt" and examine it with tools on the robotic arm. The informal names of targets on Overgaard are related to Mozart, marking his 250th birthday on Jan. 27.

Several sites are making composites and large panoramas of the images beamed back to earth. My favourite is Mars midnight browser, but MER imagary, A Walk on Mars and Mars.hynee.com are showing splendid pictures too.

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NASA puts up a slideshow every month with the latest findings and pictures of the robots.