Mars Exploration Rover
NASA / JPL-Caltech / Maas Digital

 

Matijevic Hill Panorama Opportunity took the hundreds of component images for this panorama with her stereo panoramic camera (Pancam) from Nov. 19, 2012 through Dec. 3, 2012. Named in honor of JPL’s Jake Matijevic, one of the creators of Spirit and Opportunity and a Mars rover pioneer, the hill is an area within the Cape York segment of Endeavour’s rim. Jake passed away on Aug. 20, 2012, shortly after Curiosity landed. “It’s still very hard,” said Ashley Stroupe, one of the rover planners, during an interview this month. “We’re here exploring Matijevic Hill, so his name is in our minds every day. A day doesn’t go by when we have a question and know the person who would know that answer off the top of his head was Jake. We miss him tremendously. It’s a terrible loss for everybody and Mars exploration in general. He was one of the incredible people behind the whole program.” NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / Arizona State University

 

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Begins Wrapping Science on Matijevic Hill

Sols 3209 – 3235
By A.J.S. Rayl
2013/03/06 01:03 CST

As February turned to March, Opportunity was conducting some of its final science investigations on Matijevic Hill, the MER team was making preparations for the robot field geologist’s trek south for the next winter, and the Mars Exploration Rovers mission was checking off another month of exploration.

The current hope is for Opportunity to wrap-up work on Matijevic Hill in the next couple of weeks, depart Cape York and be roving southward to Solander Point no later than May 9th, where – if everything goes as hoped – the rover will spend the next Martian winter. But the exact day and time have yet to be determined and there is no official route yet.

“Everybody’s eager to get moving and there’s still a lot of science to be done at Cape York. We have to balance those two against each other,” Steve Squyres, MER principal investigator, of Cornell University told the MER Update. “We don’t have a fixed departure date, because the mission right now is still discovery driven and I can’t promise nothing else will pop up. But, unless we find a dinosaur bone sticking out of a rock” he added, “we’re going to have to get out of here pretty soon.”

The ninth of May is the “last possible date” that Opportunity can leave Cape York and get to Solander Point “safely and with plenty of margin,” according to John Callas, MER project manager of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where all the American Mars rovers were “born.” Waiting that long however means the rover won’t be stopping anywhere long enough en route to study much of anything.

“If we want to do science along the way, we want to depart earlier, so there’s flexibility – we’re trading science now for science later,” said Squyres. “We’re going to make our decisions based on balancing the science we have in front of us against the science we have off in the distance.”

Read more: Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Begins Wrapping Science on Matijevic Hill | The Planetary Society.

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