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• The NM Museum of Natural History MER 10th Anniversary Exhibit opened here on January 24
• Opportunity is still at its "winter haven" on the crest of Murray Ridge
• Opportunity finally finished its study of the "jelly donut" rock Pinnacle Island
• Opportunity is looking now at some odd, possibly mineralized rocks
New Exhibit on the 10th Anniversary of MER Here at the NM Museum of Natural Hitory & Science
On January 24th, we opened a new exhibit in honor of the tenth anniversary of MER operations on the surface of Mars. The new exhibit is a supplement to the existing Mars Exploration Rover exhibit installed in December of 2003. Instead of attempting to capture all the important scenes and moments of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, the exhibit is themed as landscape art and arranged as a series of very large format images in a minimalistic gallery type setting suitable for contemplation. The exhibit is focused on a few samples of the important "works" by the "artists" Spirit and Opportunity.
Entrance to the MER 10th Anniversary "Art" Exhibit. The rover replica in the background is part of the existing exhibit originally installed in December 2003. Note the text description of the two rovers: "Portraits of the Artists as Young Rovers".
The exhibit consists of several large panoramas, including two favorite "black and white" panoramas from Spirit and Opportunity, a display of minerals from New Mexico that have also been identified on Mars, and an actual rover wheel on loan from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. An additional component is a monitor displaying day to day "technical" images that illustrate some of the things not usually "digested" for the public.
In addition to color panoramas, the exhibit includes large format views of a few Microscopic Images and dramatic stereo anaglyph panoramas.
The MER rover replica, along with its 8 percent basaltic rock population diorama, remains on display along with several interactive kiosks about the rover, the mission, and Mars in general. Video monitors in the exhibit also display the status and most recent results.
Opportunity is still exploring an outcrop high up on Murray Ridge as the winter solstice on Mars approaches. At this location the tilts are good, so Opportunity is getting excellent solar input on its solar panels. Meanwhile Opportunity is checking out some of the outcrops here at its winter haven
In late January the odd rock "Pinnacle Island", which was widely described in the news media as looking like a "jelly donut", was the target of some intense study by Opportunity. This rock has some unusually high elements, and elements of the type that are commonly moved by water. Some of the characteristics of the elemental abundances are somewhat like some mineralized deposits here on Earth. So we suspect that something happened here to leach rocks in one place and deposit some of the elements in another. Maybe it was hydrothermal circulation associated with Endeavour crater. Or maybe it was something else from the early days of Mars geologic history. That is why Opportunity is moving in to look at a couple of other rock.
In the last week Opportunity moved a few meters away from the "jelly donut" rock Pinnacle Island, and began looking at another outcrop. The moved allowed Opportunity to look back and see if there was an obvious source for the loose rock that it had been looking at over the last few weeks.
Pancam image of "Pinnacle Island" merged with several Microscopic Imager views of the rock. [Image processing by Tim Parker, JPL.) The resulting image gives a high resolution perspective on this rock.
This is the short drive that Opportunity did over the weekend (Feb 8-9) to set up for looking at one of the odd rocks in this location, "Stuart Island", which is particularly colorful. Check out the image below from sol 3571.
The target of the short drive, "Stuart Island", a colorful rock just uphill from Pinnacle Island. This rock has possible patches of differing mineraliztion, so we will be analyzing several spots on it to see if we can sort the differences out. It will be the focus of Opportunity's geologic study over the next few sols. Then we will likely continue south and uphill.