Explore The 5,000+ Days Of Spirit On Mars

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March 30, 2019

One of NASA’s greatest achievement and progress can be considered as sending the Opportunity and its companion rover Spirit to the planet Mars. Space discoveries and exploring Mars has been the major objectives of NASA. It was initially planned by the NASA to have the Spirit and Opportunity to stay for a mere 90 Martian days or Sol. The biggest highlight was that these robots have successfully crossed 5000+days in the Mars planet. The main objective of these robots was to study more about the planet Mars including the condition of the sand, texture and the air condition.

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Launching Of Opportunity And Spirit

The Opportunity and its companion Spirit were launched towards the planet Mars in the year 2003 ensuring that both of them land on different parts of the planet in January 2004. Initially, NASA was not confident of the survival of Opportunity and Spirit in the red planet because there wasn’t any guarantee that the robots would survive the severe winters. The winter in the Mars planet is twice as long as the general winter that prevails on the Earth. NASA was successful in finding a way to tilt the rovers in a northward direction.

This ensures that the panels are being pointed at the Sun which generally is seen during the winter season. Spirit was able to successfully stay on the red planet until the year 2009. It was lost when it got completely stuck in the sand trap preventing it from pointing towards the northward sun during the winter in 2009. Spirit was able to send the discovery information including the details of the ground and the surface water to the NASA station back on Earth.

Findings Of Opportunity And Spirit

The Opportunity robot continues to explore the red planet and is currently exploring the shallow channel known as the Perseverance Valley. This is a valley that is present through the western rim of the planet Mars. Information about this valley would be of great help for the scientist to know the geological process involved in the formation of the planet Mars. The robot has been able to detect the network of the rock strips present in the Perseverance Valley. It has been revealed that the dirt and gravel deposited onto the stripes due to wind, freezing and the combination of these factors.

Exploring Mars has never been easy owing to its harsh environmental and climatic conditions. Time is calculated in a different manner than the earth. In Mars, a day is 40 minutes longer than the day on the Earth. This is termed as the Martian Day.  Spirit and the Opportunity robots started their stay in Mars looking for the signs of past water activity on the planet Mars. Both of them were able to successfully find evidence in large quantities. Spirit was able to detect the ancient hydrothermal system like where there was hot water that was continuously being flowed and bubbled through the rock areas.

Evidence Found

The robots Opportunity and its sister Spirit has studied the impact crater that was landed by chance. Additionally, the soil and rock samples were examined as the panoramic images of the plain was captured by the robots. The robots have also photographed a passing comet, the craters, the flat plain and the texture of the surfaces. Additionally, the presence of hematite and the meteorites were discovered by the robots.

Spirit and Opportunity were able to find evidence of the presence of water on Mars. This turned out to be a long baseline survey of the Martian surface and also an in-depth analysis of the water and the minerals present on the red planet. All these observations will be of great help in the study of whether human life is possible on the planet Earth.

From Isaac Newton to Nicolas Copernicus to Galileo, I have tried to feed my love for the skies by reading the life stories of this great men and women. But the more I opened pages the more I found I wanted to know more – and more I read, libraries I visited, journals, the internet and wherever until I came to the end of the road.

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