NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission is an ongoing robotic house mission involving two Mars rovers, Spirit and Alternative, exploring the planet Mars. It started in 2003 with the sending of the 2 rovers: MER-A Spirit and MER-B Alternative—to discover the Martian floor and geology. Each rovers outlived their deliberate missions of ninety Martian photo voltaic days by far. MER-A Spirit was energetic till 2010. MER-B Alternative remains to be lively. The success of the 2 MERs led to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, sending a much bigger rover Curiosity in 2012.
The mission’s scientific goal was to seek for and characterize a variety of rocks and soils that maintain clues to previous water exercise on Mars. The mission is a part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, which incorporates three earlier profitable landers: the 2 Viking program landers in 1976 and Mars Pathfinder probe in 1997.
The overall price of constructing, launching, touchdown and working the rovers on the floor for the preliminary ninety-sol main mission was US$820 million. For the reason that rovers have continued to operate past their preliminary ninety sol main mission, they’ve every obtained 5 mission extensions. The fifth mission extension was granted in October 2007, and ran to the top of 2009. The whole price of the primary 4 mission extensions was $104 million, and the fifth mission extension is predicted to price no less than $20 million.
In July 2007, throughout the fourth mission extension, Martian mud storms blocked daylight to the rovers and threatened the power of the craft to assemble power via their photo voltaic panels, inflicting engineers to concern that one or each of them is likely to be completely disabled. Nonetheless, the mud storms lifted, permitting them to renew operations.
On Might 1, 2009, throughout its fifth mission extension, Spirit turned caught in comfortable soil on Mars. After almost 9 months of makes an attempt to get the rover again on observe, together with utilizing check rovers on Earth, NASA introduced on January 26, 2010 that Spirit was being retasked as a stationary science platform. This mode would allow Spirit to help scientists in ways in which a cellular platform couldn’t, comparable to detecting “wobbles” within the planet’s rotation that may point out a liquid core. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) misplaced contact with Spirit after final listening to from the rover on March 22, 2010 and continued makes an attempt to regain communications lasted till Could 25, 2011, bringing the elapsed mission time to six years 2 months 19 days, or over 25 occasions the unique deliberate mission length.
In recognition of the huge quantity of scientific data amassed by each rovers, two asteroids have been named of their honor: 37452 Spirit and 39382 Alternative. The mission is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which designed, constructed, and is working the rovers.
On January 24, 2014, NASA reported that present research by the remaining rover Alternative in addition to by the newer Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity will now be trying to find proof of historical life, together with a biosphere based mostly on autotrophic, chemotrophic and/or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, in addition to historic water, together with fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains associated to historical rivers or lakes) which will have been liveable. The seek for proof of habitability, taphonomy (associated to fossils), and natural carbon on the planet Mars is now a major NASA goal.
The scientific aims of the Mars Exploration Rover mission are to:
Seek for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soils that maintain clues to previous water exercise. Specifically, samples sought embrace people who have minerals deposited by water-associated processes akin to precipitation, evaporation, sedimentary cementation, or hydrothermal exercise.
Decide the distribution and composition of minerals, rocks, and soils surrounding the touchdown websites.
Decide what geologic processes have formed the native terrain and influenced the chemistry. Such processes might embody water or wind erosion, sedimentation, hydrothermal mechanisms, volcanism, and cratering.
Carry out calibration and validation of floor observations made by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter devices. It will assist decide the accuracy and effectiveness of assorted devices that survey Martian geology from orbit.
Seek for iron-containing minerals, and to determine and quantify relative quantities of particular mineral sorts that include water or had been fashioned in water, comparable to iron-bearing carbonates.
Characterize the mineralogy and textures of rocks and soils to find out the processes that created them.
Seek for geological clues to the environmental situations that existed when liquid water was current.
Assess whether or not these environments had been conducive to life.
Over the last 20 years, NASA will conduct a number of missions to deal with whether or not life ever existed on Mars. The search begins with figuring out whether or not the Martian surroundings was ever appropriate for all times. Life, as people perceive it, requires water, therefore the historical past of water on Mars is crucial to discovering out if the Martian surroundings was ever conducive to life. Though the Mars Exploration Rovers shouldn’t have the power to detect life instantly, they provide vital info on the habitability of the setting within the planet’s historical past.