July 14th, 2004

As mission ages, CU MarsLab on campus has a major new role Cornell Chronicle

Since the beginning of January, the Cornell team running the panoramic cameras, or Pancams, on the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, has been largely functioning out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). That’s where instructions are uplinked, or sent, to the two roving vehicles. But as the mission ages — in April NASA extended its life until at least mid-September — demand is growing for space at JPL for other missions, such as Deep Impact and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Both missions also have Cornell involvement: the first to study the interior of a comet, the second to get even higher-resolution orbital data on Mars.) In addition, the Mars science team members need to get back to their universities. As a result, the MarsLab at Cornell is gradually taking on a new mission: actually generating the instructions for uplink directly to the two twin-lensed panoramic cameras atop each rover’s mast.

May 20th, 2004

In Montreal, Steve Squyres describes new adventures of the Mars rovers Cornell Chronicle

The Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are heading into two new and very different adventures in their pursuit of further geological evidence that water once flowed on the planet. Spirit is speeding like a clipper ship toward the now not-so-distant Columbia Hills from its landing site at Gusev crater. Its twin, Opportunity, is surveying the rim along the football stadium-sized Endurance crater on the Meridiani plain for a potentially perilous pathway into the crater to investigate a huge, cantilevered bedrock outcrop.

December 11th, 2003

Mars missions leader has found the secret of the 25-hour day Cornell Chronicle

Steven Squyres, the principal investigator for the science instruments aboard the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, juggles his commitments to the four space missions he is actively involved in, as well as to his teaching and advising duties, with an energetic ease that makes some wonder if he has found the secret to a 25-hour day. Well yes, actually, he has. Not 25 hours, to be exact, but 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds, the length of one Martian day, or “sol.”