Mars Opportunity Robotic Rover, which was active since 2004 has been playing a great role in learning the Martian surface. Opportunity rover was launched on July 7, 2003 and landed on Mars on January 25,2004.
Opportunity rover proves to be more powerful than its twin Spirit rover which froze its communications in 2010.
On its mission, it completed 90 Martian days along with the discovery of an extraterrestrial meteorite and over 2 years studying the Victoria crater.
Even the rover survived the dust storms in 2007 and reached Endeavour crater in 2011. Opportunity rover is still active as of 2012 and exceeding its planned duration.
Specifications – Opportunity Rover
- A solar powered robot with six wheels and standing 1.5m high and 2.3m wide and weighs 180kg.
- Rover can be steered at front and rear letting it to tilt up to 30 degrees.
- Maximum speed is 2 in/s (i.e) 50 mm/s.
- Solar panels generate 140 watts up to 4 hours per Martian day.
- Rechargeable lithium ion batteries stores energy to use at night.
- On-board computer with 20 MHz RAD6000 CPU with 128 MB of DRAM, 3 MB of EEPROM, and 256 MB of flash memory.
- Operating temperatures ranges from −40 °C to +40 °C (−40 °F to 104 °F).
- Radioisotope heaters and electric heaters provides adequate heating for the rover.
- Insulated by gold film and silica aerogel.
- Omnidirectional low gain antenna and a steerable high gain antenna both in direct contact with Earth.
- Panoramic camera tests the texture, color, mineralogy, and structure of the local terrain.
- Navigation Camera with a higher field of view but lower resolution is used for navigation and driving.
- Two B&W camera with 120 degree field of view.
- Cameras produce 1024-pixel by 1024-pixel images and are compressed, stored and transmitted at required time.
- Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer is used to identify the type of soil and rock and studies the processes of their formation.
- Mössbauer spectrometer examines the iron bearing rocks and soils.
- Alpha particle X-ray spectrometer tests the amount of elements present in rocks and soils.
- Magnets to collect magnetic dust particles.
- Microscopic imager to provide high resolution image on soils.
- Rock Abrasion Tool is used to provide new specimen to be tested by instruments on-board.
Some of the stunning images of the Martian surface captured by Opportunity Rover.
Burns Cliff inside Endurance crater