d.). The Mars Exploration Rovers are also equipped with a microscopic imager that is used to obtain "close-up, high-resolution images of rocks and soil" and a rock abrasion tool that is used for "removing dusty and weathered rock surfaces and exposing fresh material for examination by instruments onboard" (Summary, n.d.).
The rovers were designed to move around Mars and perform on-site geological investigations; the rovers have the same capabilities to collect data on Mars as a scientist would. The rovers are considered to be the mechanical equivalent of geologist "walking the surface of Mars" (Summary, n.d.). The manner in which the rovers are assembled help to provide geologists with a realistic view of the planet. The cameras on the rovers are mounted on masts that are 1.5 meters, or 5 feet, high and "provide 360-degree, stereoscopic, humanlike views of the terrain;" moreover, "the robotic arm is capable of movement in much the same way as a human arm with an elbow and wrist, and can place instruments directly up against rock and soil targets of interest" (Summary, n.d.). Contained within the robotic "fist" of the rover's arm is a microscopic camera that mirrors a geologist's handheld magnifying lens (Summary, n.d.).
In the latest Opportunity update which analyzed data sent from the rover during the sols cycles 2757-2763, or approximately data sent between October 26 and November 1, 2011, it was revealed that the seasonal plan for the Opportunity is to have the rover "winter over on the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour crater" (Update: Spirit and Opportunity, n.d.). This latest sols cycle had the Opportunity on the lookout for light-toned materials that would help to provide further insight into Mars' history.
While the Spirit has stopped responding to communications sent by the MER mission team since March 22, 2010, the Opportunity continues to provide valuable information and insight to geologists on Earth. Through the data and images that are relayed back to Earth, the Opportunity has enabled scientists to have a better understanding of the geological composition of Mars as well as study the presence of water on the planet. Both the Spirit and the Opportunity have "discovered evidence of liquid water" (Chang, 2011). Furthermore, these scientific investigations have allowed scientists to postulate the possibility of the existence of life on Mars. Because of the Mars Exploration Rover missions, new doors have been opened into the exploration of other planets in our galaxy; due to the success of the Mars Exploration Rover missions, it is possible for similar technologies to be used to explore other planets in the far reaches of the universe. The Spirit and the Opportunity have made it possible for scientists to explore other avenues; NASA is currently in the process of launching a larger rover, the Curiosity, which will continue to build upon the discoveries that were made by the MER -- A and the MER-B (Chang, 2011).
Chang, K. (2 September 2011). Mars Rover Discovery Elates NASA. The New York Times. Print.
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