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  Mars Exploration Rovers: Spirit and Opportunity (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Mars Exploration Rovers: Spirit and Opportunity
Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-23-2004 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spaceflight Now: Spirit remains in 'critical' condition
The crippled Spirit rover remains in critical condition on the surface of Mars, engineers said today, the victim of ongoing electronic seizures that have caused its central computer to reboot itself more than 60 times over the past two days.

Robert Pearlman
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Associated Press: Spirit no longer critical: NASA
NASA said today it had made progress in fixing its malfunctioning Mars rover Spirit as it prepared to land a second rover on the red planet.

"We made good progress overnight," project manager Pete Theisinger told a news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

"The rover has been upgraded from critical to serious."

NASA said it had received some data from the Spirit rover and had developed a theory about its problem.

Scientists said they managed to reset Spirit's computer and put the rover into what's called "cripple" mode to bypass software problems.

Still, the problems may prevent the rover from taking another drive on Mars for as long as three weeks.

072069
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posted 01-24-2004 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 072069   Click Here to Email 072069     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is good news indeed!

Bernie

Robert Pearlman
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More details from Spaceflight Now:
Rover project manager Peter Theisinger gave the following update on activities to diagnose Spirit's ailment and return the craft to working order:

"We made good progress overnight and the rover has been upgraded from critical to serious. We have a working hypothesis we are pursuing that is consistent with many of the observables and consistent with operations that we performed on the vehicle last night. It involves the flash memory on the vehicle and the software used to communicate with that memory."

spaced out
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posted 01-24-2004 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess even if Opportunity lands successfully now it's still going to be slowed-down by this problem. Until they understand what triggered it on Spirit they won't want to do anything on Opportunity that risks doing the same thing. That might mean not going anywhere for three weeks.

Hopefully the images from the landing site will be different-enough from Spirit's that we'll have plenty of stuff to take-in anyway. The ideal result would be to have a dramatic landscape visible from the landing site itself. Here's hoping...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-24-2004 10:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA/JPL Press Release
Spirit Condition Upgraded as Twin Rover Nears Mars

Hours before NASA's Opportunity rover will reach Mars, engineers have found a way to communicate reliably with its twin, Spirit, and to get Spirit's computer out of a cycle of rebooting many times a day.

Spirit's responses to commands sent this morning confirm a theory developed overnight that the problem is related to the rover's two "flash" memories or software controlling those memories.

"The rover has been upgraded from critical to serious," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager Peter Theisinger at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Significant work is still ahead for restoring Spirit, he predicted.

Opportunity is on course for landing in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars. The center of an ellipse covering the area where the spacecraft has a 99 percent chance of landing is just 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the target point. That point was selected months ago. Mission managers chose not to use an option for making a final adjustment to the flight path. Previously, the third and fifth out of five scheduled maneuvers were skipped as unnecessary. " We managed to target Opportunity to the desired atmospheric entry point, which will bring us to the target landing site, in only three maneuvers," said JPL's Dr. Louis D'Amario, navigation team chief for the rovers.

Opportunity will reach Mars at 05:05 Sunday, Universal Time (12:05 a.m. Sunday EST or 9:05 p.m. Saturday PST).

From the time Opportunity hits the top of Mars' atmosphere at about 5.4 kilometers per second (12,000 miles per hour) to the time it hits the surface 6 minutes later, then bounces, the rover will be going through the riskiest part of its mission. Based on analysis of Spirit's descent and on weather reports about the atmosphere above Meridiani Planum, mission controllers have decided to program Opportunity to open its parachute slightly earlier than Spirit did.

Mars is more than 10 percent farther from Earth than it was when Spirit landed. That means radio signals from Opportunity during its descent and after rolling to a stop have a lower chance of being detected on Earth. About four hours after the landing, news from the spacecraft may arrive by relay from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. However, that will depend on Opportunity finishing critical activities, such as opening the lander petals and unfolding the rover's solar panels, before Odyssey flies overhead.

Spirit has 256 megabytes of flash memory, a type commonly used on gear such as digital cameras for holding data even when the power is off. Engineers confirmed this morning that Spirit's recent symptoms are related to the flash memory when they commanded the rover to boot up and utilize its random-access memory instead of flash memory. The rover then obeyed commands about communicating and going into sleep mode. Spirit communicated successfully at 120 bits per second for nearly an hour.

"We have a vehicle that is stable in power and thermal, and we have a working hypothesis we have confirmed," Theisinger said. By commanding Spirit each morning into a mode that avoids using flash memory, engineers plan to get it to communicate at a higher data rate, to diagnose the root cause of the problem and develop ways to restore as much functioning as possible.

The work on restoring Spirit is not expected to slow the steps in getting Opportunity ready to roll off its lander platform if Opportunity lands safely. For Spirit, those steps took 12 days.

The rovers' main task is to explore their landing sites for evidence in the rocks and soil about whether the sites' past environments were ever watery and possibly suitable for sustaining life.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-24-2004 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
I guess even if Opportunity lands successfully now it's still going to be slowed-down by this problem.

From NASA JPL: "The work on restoring Spirit is not expected to slow the steps in getting Opportunity ready to roll off its lander platform if Opportunity lands safely. For Spirit, those steps took 12 days."

Aztecdoug
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posted 01-25-2004 12:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Opportunity knocks on Mars... but has it really stopped rolling yet?

That was a blast to watch. I missed watching Spirit live but I caught all of this one. What a hoot! I felt like I was 8 years old again watching Buzz and Neil go at it back in '69.

Thank gosh I am a grown up now and I have the NASA TV channel. I am really proud of those scientists up at JPL. Great job!

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astronut
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posted 01-25-2004 12:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronut   Click Here to Email astronut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You really gotta hand it to NASA and the JPL team. Two for two on the MER landings, making 5 out of 6 on USA Mars landing attempts. GREAT JOB GUYS! Yeah I gotta agree with Doug that this is the most exciting thing on TV since the Apollo era. I watched both of these MER landings live and felt all the emotions running through the room at JPL from here in Texas.

I still willin' to bet they'll work around the problems with Spirit and in a two or three weeks we'll have two Mars geologist robots exploring Mars at the same time.

I can hardly wait for the Cassini/Huygens (sp?) Saturn orbiter & Titan lander to arrive this summer. What a banner year for robotic space exploration! Mars, Saturn, a comet, wow what a year.

Now it's time for EVERYONE to write your congressmen & women in support of Pres. Bush's stated NASA goals. With the glory of these successes fresh in their minds I think we'll find a receptive audience in Washington. But don't take it for granted, get to writin'!

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tegwilym
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posted 01-25-2004 04:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First pictures are coming down now. Woooo!

Tom

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2004 04:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All 77 raw images from Opportunity!

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posted 01-25-2004 05:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceman_Spiff   Click Here to Email Spaceman_Spiff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just looked at the first pics... exciting times. Definitely a different landscape from the other landers location!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2004 06:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's Opportunity rover returned the first pictures of its landing site early today, revealing a surreal, dark landscape unlike any ever seen before on Mars.

Opportunity relayed the images and other data via NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. The data showed that the spacecraft is healthy, said Matt Wallace, mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"Opportunity has touched down in a bizarre, alien landscape," said Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and its twin, Spirit. "I'm flabbergasted. I'm astonished. I'm blown away."

The terrain is darker than at any previous Mars landing site and has the first accessible bedrock outcropping ever seen on Mars. The outcropping immediately became a candidate target for the rover to visit and examine up close.

Wallace noted that the straight-ahead path looks clear for the rover to roll off its lander platform. The rover is facing north-northeast.

JPL Administrator Dr. Charles Elachi said, "This team succeeded the old fashioned way. They were excellent, they were determined, and they worked very hard."

Larger version, and other images, here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2004 06:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA/JPL Press Release
NASA's second Mars Exploration Rover successfully sent signals to Earth during its bouncy landing and after it came to rest on one of the three side petals of its four-sided lander.

Mission engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received the first signal from Opportunity on the ground at 9:05 p.m. Pacific Standard Time Saturday via the NASA Deep Space Network, which was listening with antennas in California and Australia.

"We're on Mars, everybody!" JPL's Rob Manning, manager for development of the landing system, announced to the cheering flight team.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said at a subsequent press briefing, "This was a tremendous testament to how NASA, when really focused on an objective, can put every ounce of effort, energy, emotion and talent to an important task. This team is the best in the world, no doubt about it."

Opportunity landed in a region called Meridiani Planum, halfway around the planet from the Gusev Crater site where its twin rover, Spirit, landed three weeks ago. Earlier today, mission managers reported progress in understanding and dealing with communications and computer problems on Spirit.

"In the last 48 hours, we've been on a roller coaster," said Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator for space science. "We resurrected one rover and saw the birth of another."

JPL's Pete Theisinger, project manager for the rovers, said, "We are two for two. Here we are tonight with Spirit on a path to recovery and with Opportunity on Mars."

By initial estimates, Opportunity landed about 24 kilometers (15 miles) down range from the center of the target landing area. That is well within an outcropping of a mineral called gray hematite, which usually forms in the presence of water. "We're going to have a good place to do science," said JPL's Richard Cook, deputy project manager for the rovers.

Once it pushed itself upright by opening the petals of the lander, Opportunity was expected to be facing east.

The main task for both rovers in coming months is to explore the areas around their landing sites for evidence in rocks and soils about whether those areas ever had environments that were watery and possibly suitable for sustaining life.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2004 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This image shows one of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's first breathtaking views of the martian landscape after its successful landing at Meridiani Planum on Mars. On the left, the rover's mast can be seen in a stowed position. Opportunity landed Saturday night at approximately 9:05 PST. The image was taken by the rover's navigation camera.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2004 06:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Other images:

WAWalsh
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posted 01-25-2004 07:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a brief note -- hats off also to the young lady who provided the names for Spirit and Opportunity. Both seems to have proven apt and, so far, lucky (probably far better than my thought that they should have been named Wilbur and Orville).

Scott
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posted 01-25-2004 09:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone else think that the outcrop near the lander might be the near edge of a big crater? Kinda has that look to it.

Ben
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posted 01-25-2004 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Scott:
Does anyone else think that the outcrop near the lander might be the near edge of a big crater? Kinda has that look to it.
Yes, Steve Squires said during todays press briefing on tv that that tile patterned outcrop of rock is in fact the 'wall' of the crater which Opportunity is in. The crater is about 65 feet in diameter they estimate, and the 'wall' is very shallow so that the rover should be able to climb up to that outcrop and out of the crater as well.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2004 09:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Scott:
Does anyone else think that the outcrop near the lander might be the near edge of a big crater? Kinda has that look to it.
Steve Squyres confirmed that very thing today. Opportunity landed inside a small crater and the outcrop is on one of its walls. The plan for the rover now is to drive off the lander, investigate the soil for hematite, investigate the outcrop until they understand that geological area, and then climb outside the crater, look around, and make its way to the very big crater not too far away.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-25-2004 09:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More details...

Opportunity Sits In A Small Crater, Near A Bigger One

DC Giants
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posted 01-25-2004 10:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DC Giants   Click Here to Email DC Giants     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, what a great month for space exploration! Earlier we had a fantastic flyby of Comet Wild, then we had stunning pictures from Spirit followed by the President's space initiative speech and now Opportunity! It is a good time to be a space fan.

Patrick

tegwilym
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posted 01-26-2004 03:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DC Giants:
Wow, what a great month for space exploration!
I think it's going to be a great year for space. We also have Cassini arriving at Saturn this summer... and maybe the return of the shuttle later in the year.

Tom

Glint
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posted 01-26-2004 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
All 77 raw images from Opportunity!
Most people might already know this, but as a reminder if you open the left and right images from the navigation camera and place the images side by side you can view them in 3-D. It may take a little practice, so here's an example:

spaceuk
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posted 01-26-2004 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Really is a fascinating area to have landed.

I've just crushed up some of my prized kidney shaped hematite [from Cumbria mines] to compare against that very dark red colour seen in the Opportunity images. And, its almost the same colour. I did this based on what Squyres had said in the press conference about the soil colour.

Its difficult to get rid of the hematite colour stain from hands and trays, etc.

It will be really exciting when Opportunity gets to examine those rock outcrops.

We know there are carbonates on Mars (Spirit and previous missions have found this out).

Now, if those outcrops turned out to be of limestone... Then we might have had thousands of little Mars 'beings' that had thrived in the Mars sea/lake water, died and their skeletons decomposed to form the limestone! Now that would be a dream come true if it turned out that way! If only - if only. I can but dream.

There are other mechanisms for limestone creation as well - hasten to add.

But, we should know - hopefully - in a few days.

Really exciting days ahead by the looks of things.

All credit to the NASA/JPL teams for this mission.

mmmoo
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posted 01-26-2004 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mmmoo   Click Here to Email mmmoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a big colour pan.

Mike

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Philip
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posted 01-29-2004 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well didn't find exact Martian Coordinates for Spirit location (Gusev crater about long 180° lat 15° nor for Opportunity (Merdiani Planum about Long 0° Lat 15°). Did anyone find exact locations?

I was really stunned seeing the photos of the "footprints" left by Opportunity's by airbags during the bumpy landing, images which really give a good idea of the Martian soil. Exciting days for sure!

Scott
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posted 02-06-2004 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Check this out. Opportunity is already at the right edge of the outcrop, looking down on it.

I got the above image from the Raw Images feed page.

tegwilym
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posted 02-06-2004 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ooooh! Nice!

Tom

FFrench
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posted 02-06-2004 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WOW!!!

Thank you for that quick post. Incredible photo!

Scott
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posted 02-06-2004 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Check out these new Spirit color pics. Beautiful! Some of them remind me of some of the Apollo color EVA images.

Here are some remarkable new motion GIF files showing Opportunity driving away from the lander and toward the outcrop.

Larger versions of these are here.

Sorry to keep posting like this but this stuff is just incredible to me.

Rick Boos
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posted 02-06-2004 03:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Boos   Click Here to Email Rick Boos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great photos!!!! Now THIS is what space exploration is all about! Great job NASA!!!!

tegwilym
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posted 02-07-2004 02:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These are so cool! I sit at work all day and keep hitting refresh all the time hoping for more to show up. I can't wait to see color images of the outcrop.

Tom

Scott
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posted 02-07-2004 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The latest and greatest IMO.

These look kinda like lithified (hardened) wind blown Martian dunes to me. What do others think?

That soil is just the craziest looking stuff I've ever seen.

mensax
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posted 02-07-2004 03:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mensax   Click Here to Email mensax     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott... thank you for continuing to bring us the latest news from Mars! Keep it up!

Noah

Scott
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posted 02-07-2004 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Close-up of the soil.

tegwilym
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posted 02-07-2004 06:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't get enough of this stuff. This is just soo cool! So I wonder when they will show some color images of the outcrop? Yeah, I'm being greedy.

Tom

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posted 02-08-2004 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shuttlefan   Click Here to Email Shuttlefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am no geogolist, but perhaps one of you is. These outcrop stones, don't they look like sedimentary layers originated from water influence? Or am I totally wrong and a lot of other geological processes can form such a texture? Surely one of you knows better and can give me a short lecture.

Chris

Scott
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posted 02-08-2004 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am a geologist, but having said that there are people who know way more about sedimentology than I do. But I have seen sedimentary lithified ancient sand dunes which look very similar to this.

I looked just now and here are images of lithified sand dunes I found on the Internet:

Also, here is a page with a lot more, but larger photos starting with the second photo (the photos under the heading "Lithified Sand Dunes").

I think I notice an undulating and changing of angles of layers (known as "crossbedding") in these Opportunity photos as you look along the outcrop. I could be mistaken.

Scott
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posted 02-08-2004 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chris,

Now that I look at one of today's brand-new photos these do have sort of a "muddy" look to them, which doesn't resemble layered dunes I have seen. Like I said, there are many people who know a lot more than me about all this, and I assume NASA has some of them looking at these.


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