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Spirit and Opportunity Continue Explorations

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

rover concept art
Mars Rover artwork

After more than a year on Mars, rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still actively exploring. Spirit's solar panels are collecting a fine layer of dust, which has reduced energy levels. Despite the dust, Spirit has recently visited "Cumberland Ridge" and has been moving towards "Larry's Lookout." Opportunity is in good health, and has completed its investigation of a trench and soil materials under clear skies. Both rovers are scheduled for software updates.

More: JPL - Spirit Status Report

More: JPL - Opportunity Status Report

Link: USGS Astro - Mars Exploration Rover Project

ESA's Lunar SMART-1 Mission Extended

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

SMART-1 artwork
SMART-1 artist's impression


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The European Space Agency's SMART-1 mission, in orbit around the Earth's Moon, was extended by one year, pushing back the mission end date from August 2005 to August 2006. The extension by one year of the mission will provide opportunities to extend the global coverage, compared to the original six-month mission, and to map both southern and northern hemispheres at high resolution. The new orbit will also be more stable and require less fuel for maintenance. The extension also gives the possibility to perform detailed studies of areas of interest by performing stereo measurements for deriving topography, multi-angle observations for studying the surface 'regolith' texture, and mapping potential landing sites for future missions.

More: ESA - SMART-1 Mission Extended