View Full Version : MER press conference, May 6, 2004

2004-May-06, 03:08 AM
The next Mars rover press conference is tomorrow (Thursday) at 3pm EDT, noon PDT, 1900 UT. Unfortunately, I will probably not be able to cover it as I usually do. (I'm going to be at APL helping with some sort of middle school robotic competition. If it's sufficiently interesting, I'll go onto BaBBling to tell you all how it went.) If anyone else wants to try to fill my large shoes (not being egotistical - they're size 13), you're welcome to do so.

2004-May-06, 07:12 PM
I'm 10 minutes late. I can't do the job as well as ToSeek, but I'll do what I can.

Squyres is talking. There are weeks to spend on Endurance crater rim. Decision yet to be made, weighing risks and benefits of dipping toe into Endurance. There's still interesting things they passed by on the way, so they will be cautious.

Rover driver talking now.

2004-May-06, 07:24 PM
Rover driver (still didn't get name) describes interactive driving. Opportunity got within 40 cm of tilting down rim. Analyzing what it takes to go down. Tension is building because of strong interest in going down. Doing clockwise traverse.

Last speaker Amy something (gee, I'm bad at typing and listening) discussing Spirit. Spirit just past Lahontan Station. Hit hills in mid-June. Aiming for that dark spot mentioned in another thread. Looking for their own "Endurance Crater" to see stratigraphy.

Mike Dornheim, Aviation Week, asks about going straight up, as first tried, versus laterally, which worked, getting out of Eagle. Answer by driver (Mike something?) was stright up hit movable soil and wheels spun. Lateral worked.

Squyres: key to moving in Endurance may be staying off loose soil and keeping mostly to bedrock which gives better footing.

2004-May-06, 07:30 PM
Andrew Brisges, AP, for Squyres: Are bands of rock in Endurance same as Eagle, just bigger? Not same. Don't see sulphates. Probably basaltic. Don't know if they accumualted in air or water. Dunes or beaches. Isn't what they saw at Eagle.

Next question, missed name, about what data can gather from rim. MiniTES, spectrographic. To be certain, need to get IDD to investigate. This is initial recon. Then, if safe, go for good stuff.

Bill Harwood(?) CBS, is there time for Opportunity to do 360-degree travers and go in and get out? Squyres: Weeks for initial survey. Not worried about time, but safety.

2004-May-06, 07:40 PM
Sally Rail (?) Planetary Society: health status? Comm glitch?

Squyres answer: quite healthy. Comm glitch was mistake on ground.

Somebody asked: dip in/dip out of Endurance or go deep?

Squyres, balance of not getting out versus getting data. Could go for it. Decision at high level. If there was a chance of not getting out, they would first go out onto plains, maybe significant jaunt south.

Missed questioner name again! Question about dangers of Endurance. 20 degree slope is right at edge of drivability, close to 100-percent slip in soft soil.

Craig Kovalt, Aviation Week: missed question -- how does ToSeek do it? Question about what learned on Meidiani Planum.
Squyres answer: what responsbile for Anatolia fracture? Can look at exposed bedrock not so busted up there, unlike craters, so another look is intriguing. Saw ripples that they still don't know enough about. At Fram, MiniTES saw difficult rock to get to that looked different from all other sulphate rocks they've seen. Would like to look at heat shield, to learn about entry and see a fresh hole maybe.

Joe Pulka (?) NPR: Bottom of Endurance darjer than Eagle.

Squyres, both seem dark to me. Darjer than all around, because they trap dark windblown sand.

Larry Evans, OC Space: how far to heat shield? Squyres A: 150-200 meters. Won't do side trip doing trip around Endurance. But, still would like to visit it, maybe on trip south of Endurance when done. Might hit heatshield first, if Endurace entry is dangerous.

2004-May-06, 07:47 PM
Tom van Flander Q: missed. Squyres A: Woldn't agree with question premise. Layers at Eagle and blueberries predated impacted. Blueberries came after bedrock. Don't know if water involved with layers at Endurance.

Someone Q: Water formed Endurance layers? Squyres A: looks like sandstone, looks can be deceiving. Basaltic grains. Long way from understanding. It's like the mission starting over. Something looks cool but we don't know what it is yet. Haven't got a chance to examine yet. Give us a few weeks.



My admiration for ToSeek's always better job.

Typically, I missed date of next conference. I quit.

2004-May-06, 07:56 PM
The press briefings always seem to be on when I'm at work, and since we don't have real player here (and can't install it :\) I'm grateful for any update on the forums :D

2004-May-06, 08:41 PM
Associated press release:

Mars Rover Arrival at Deeper Crater Provides a Tempting Eyeful

Scientists and engineers celebrated when they saw the first pictures NASA's Opportunity sent from the rim of a stadium-sized crater that the rover reached after a six-week trek across martian flatlands.

Multiple layers of exposed bedrock line much of the inner slope of the impact crater informally called "Endurance." Such layers and their thicknesses may reveal what the environment on Mars was like before the salty standing body of water evaporated to produce the telltale rocks that were explored in the tiny "Eagle" Crater. That's where Opportunity spent its first eight weeks on Mars.

"It's the most spectacular view we've seen of the martian surface, for the scientific value of it but also for the sheer beauty of it," Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., said about a color panorama of Endurance Crater released at a news conference today at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. He is the principal investigator for the science instruments on both Opportunity and its twin Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit.

In coming days, Opportunity will circle the rim of Endurance, observing the crater's interior from various angles. Scientists and engineers have begun to identify interesting science targets and assess how difficult it would be for the rover to descend partway into the crater and climb back out. "We will need to decide whether the science is compelling enough to send the rover into a crater it might never leave, or whether to explore other sites first before entering Endurance," said Orlando Figueroa, director of the Mars Exploration Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

At Eagle Crater, an outcrop of bedrock only about the height of a street curb yielded evidence that the site was once covered by a body of salty water deep enough to splash in. "That was the last dying gasp of a body of water," Squyres said. "The question that has intrigued us since we left Eagle Crater is what preceded that. Was there a deep body of water for a long time? Was there a shallow, short-lived playa? We don't know."

The strategy for seeking answers is to examine older rocks from deeper layers, so Opportunity was sent on drives totaling about 800 meters (half a mile) to reach the deepest crater nearby, Endurance. This crater excavated by the impact of a tiny asteroid or a piece of a comet is about 130 meters (430 feet) wide and, from the highest point on the rim, more than 20 meters (66 feet) deep, 10 times as deep as Eagle. An exposure of outcrop in a cliff high on the inner wall across from the rover's current position reveals a stack of layers 5 to 10 meters (16 to 33 feet) tall. Other exposures around the inner slope of the crater may be more accessible than the cliff, and chunks from the same layers may have been thrown out onto surrounding ground by the crater-forming impact.

"There is a rock unit below what we saw at Eagle Crater," Squyres said. "It looks fundamentally different from anything we've seen before. It's big. It's massive. It has a story to tell us."

Brian Cooper, leader of JPL's squad of rover drivers for Spirit and Opportunity, said the initial view of the crater doesn't settle accessibility questions yet. "The slope right in front of us averages 18 to 20 degrees. Getting into the crater is no problem, but we have a lot more work to do to assess whether we could get back out. That depends on soil properties and slippage, as well as slope." The planned circuit around the rim will also require careful navigation. "If you don't go close enough to the lip, you can't look in, but if you go too far, you could fall in," he said. "We're going to have a very interesting few weeks."

When NASA sent astronauts to the lunar surface more than 30 years ago, it was decided not to allow them to enter craters as fresh and steep as Endurance, but Opportunity may be able to do what no human has done before on another planet.

Scientists and engineers working with the other rover, Spirit, are also examining images of a destination area to identify possible targets of study and to assess how well the rover can get to them. However, that destination area, informally named "Columbia Hills," still lies several weeks of travel ahead of Spirit. Images and surface-temperature information from the NASA orbiters Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey are supplementing Spirit's own increasingly detailed pictures of the hills. Nighttime surface temperatures indicate that some areas within the hills are rockier than others, said Amy Knudson, a rover science team collaborator from Arizona State University, Tempe.

"The hills represent a different rock unit, likely older than the plains we're on," Knudson said. "There are intriguing features in the hills and we want to investigate the processes that formed them. We're especially interested to see if water played any role."

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Images and additional information about the project are available from JPL at http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov and from Cornell University at http://athena.cornell.edu .*


2004-May-06, 09:09 PM
01101001, nice pinch hitting job. Thanks for the updates.

2004-May-06, 10:12 PM
My admiration for ToSeek's always better job.

Typically, I missed date of next conference. I quit.
Fine. No more paid disinfo debunker paychecks for you! :wink:

2004-May-09, 06:22 PM
If anyone knows of someplace online where I can view this press conference, please let me know. I've checked the usual sources without success.

2004-May-09, 11:28 PM
If anyone knows of someplace online where I can view this press conference, please let me know. I've checked the usual sources without success.

They seem to have stopped updating those sources. Shame, because it stinks of thinking people have lost interest. If I could find a way to record them, I could host the latest on apollohoax. But I can't.

2004-May-13, 06:07 AM
If anyone knows of someplace online where I can view this press conference, please let me know. I've checked the usual sources without success.

They seem to have stopped updating those sources. Shame, because it stinks of thinking people have lost interest. If I could find a way to record them, I could host the latest on apollohoax. But I can't.

The press conference is finally online - here...