When does 90 days equal 16 years?

The longest lasting planet-roving robot in history may have died.  The Mars Rover Opportunity was launched from the Earth on July 7, 2003, and landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004.  The probe was designed to last 90 days, but remained operational through June 10, 2018– 14 years, 4.5 months.

Opportunity’s official name is MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B).  It landed on Meridiani Planum and its twin probe Spirit (MER-A) touched down on the other side of the planet.  Spirit functioned until it became stuck in the sand in 2009.  Communication with Spirit ended in 2010.

Opportunity was active until June 10, 2018, when a global dust storm forced it into hibernation mode.   Opportunity was partially buried and has not woken up from its hibernation despite hundreds of attempts from NASA to reactivate it.

What has Opportunity done in its active life on Mars?  For starters, it operated over 55 times its designed lifespan and traveled a distance of 28.06 miles across the planet.  The probe also took pictures of extramartian meteorites and completed a two-year study of the Victoria crater. Opportunity also found evidence of past water flows on Mars and took close-ups of water carried sediments.

In total, Opportunity took 217,594 images.  Looking at these images kind of gives you a feeling of being on Mars.  The sky is an orange-pink color.   The ground is a dark orange to almost red color.  The rocks visible in the images cover every imaginable color.  Some are white, some are black and some are the ever-present reddish pink found all over Mars.  If you would like to see these images of Mars, go to https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/multimedia/images/.

For more information about the Opportunity Probe, go to https://mars.nasa.gov/mer/

 

THE NIGHT SKY OVER AROOSTOOK COUNTY

 

All of the times and events listed below are from www.calsky.com.  You may register at this site and load your location (anywhere in the world) to be able to get event information and times.  The University of Maine at Presque Isle is located at 68d00m7.8s west longitude and 46d40m45.6s north latitude.

 

The International Space Station is visible as follows:

Morning – Feb. 22 to March 17.

Evening – March 20 to April 9.

 

To get a free sky chart go to www.skymaps.com.

 

Sun and Planet Visibility

03/01/2019

06:11 Sunrise.

17:17 Sunset.

17:48 – 18:54 Mercury.

04:30 – 06:12 Venus.

17:48 – 22:42 Mars.

02:06 – 06:00 Jupiter.

03:54 – 05:42 Saturn.

 

03/10/2019

06:45 Sunrise.

18:37 Sunset.

Not Visible Mercury.

05:24 – 06:48 Venus.

19:06 – 23:30 Mars.

02:18 – 06:30 Jupiter.

04:00 – 06:18 Saturn.

 

02/12 17:26 First Quarter Moon.

02/13 01:20 Mars 1.0 degrees from Uranus.

02/15 Galileo Galilei’s 450th birthday (1564).

02/18 05:52 Venus 1.1 degrees from Saturn.

02/19 00:25 Mercury 0.65 degrees from Neptune.

02/19 04:09 Moon at perigee – closest to the Earth (221,682 miles, 356,763 km).

02/19 10:53 Full Moon.

02/22 06:03 ISS 1.3 degrees from Jupiter.

02/24 05:56 ISS 0.4 degrees from the moon.

02/25 03:00 Mercury at perihelion – closest to the sun (28,574,614 miles, 45,986,385 km).

02/25 05:07 ISS passes 1.3 degrees from Alpha Aquila (Altair).

02/26 06:27 Last Quarter Moon.

02/26 11:00 Mercury at half phase.

02/26 20:24 Mercury at greatest eastern elongation – 18.1 degrees – visible in the evening sky.

02/27 06:00 Moon 2.3 degrees from Jupiter.

03/01 05:42 Moon 3.5 degrees from Saturn.

03/02 06:12 Moon 4.8 degrees from Venus.

03/04 06:39 Moon at apogee – Farthest from the Earth (252,509 miles, 406,375 km).

03/06 11:04 New Moon.

03/11 19:00 Moon 6.6 degrees from Mars.

03/14 PI Day.

03/14 06:27 First Quarter Moon.

03/14 21:48 Mercury passes between the Earth and the sun.

03/19 15:54 Moon at perigee – Closest to the Earth (223,312 miles, 359,387 km).

03/20 17:58 March Equinox – Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere.

03/20 21:42 Full Moon.

03/22 20:32 ISS passes 0.6 degrees from Beta Orion (Rigel).

03/22 20:33 ISS passes 0.7 degrees from Zeta Orion (Alnitak).

03/23 21:17 ISS passes 0.5 degrees from Mars.

03/24 13:27 Mercury 2.5 degrees from Neptune.

03/27 02:18 Moon 2.7 degrees from Jupiter.

03/28 00:09 Last Quarter Moon.

03/29 03:54 Moon 2.1 degrees from Saturn.

03/31 20:21 Moon at apogee – Farthest from the Earth (251,995 miles, 405,547 km).