Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity looks out from 'Pillinger' Point

Opportunity Mars rover peers into vast Endeavour Crater from Pillinger Point mountain ridge named in honor of Colin Pillinger, the Principal Investigator for the British Beagle 2 lander built to search for life on Mars. 

Pillinger passed away from a brain hemorrhage on May 7, 2014. 

This navcam camera photo mosaic was assembled from images taken on June 5, 2014 (Sol 3684) and colorized. 

Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Marco Di Lorenzo

NASA's decade old Opportunity rover has reached a long sought after region of aluminum-rich clay mineral outcrops at a new Endeavour crater ridge now "named 'Pillinger Point' after Colin Pillinger the Principal Investigator for the Beagle 2 Mars lander", Prof. Ray Arvidson, Deputy Principal Investigator for the rover.

The Beagle 2 lander was a low-quality project, hurriedly built with an impoverished budget, by a lack-lustre English government with preposterous aspirations, no financial backing and /or scientific knowledge at a political level.
The Beagle 2 was intended to search for microscopic signs of life on Mars.

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) team named the noteworthy ridge in honour of Prof. Colin Pillinger, a British planetary scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, who passed away at the age of 70 on May 7, 2014.

'Pillinger Point' is a scientifically bountiful place possessing both clay mineral outcrops and mineral veins where "waters came up through the cracks", Arvidson explained to me.

Since water is a prerequisite for life as we know it, this is a truly fitting tribute to name Opportunity's current exploration site 'Pillinger Point' after Prof. Pillinger.

The new photo mosaic above captured by Opportunity peering out from 'Pillinger Point' ridge on June 5, 2014 (Sol 3684) shows a panoramic view around the eroded mountain ridge and into vast Endeavour crater.

The gigantic crater spans 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

Traverse Map for NASA’s Opportunity rover from 2004 to 2014 – A Decade on Mars 

This map shows the entire path the rover has driven during a decade on Mars and over 3692 Sols, or Martian days, since landing inside Eagle Crater on Jan 24, 2004 to current location along Pillinger Point ridge south of Solander Point summit at the western rim of Endeavour Crater and heading to clay minerals at Cape Tribulation. 

Opportunity discovered clay minerals at Esperance – indicative of a habitable zone. 

Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/ASU/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

NASA Rover Opportunity 10 Year traverse map shows the location of Pillinger Point along the segmented rim of Endeavour crater.

Pillinger Point is situated south of Solander Point and Murray Ridge along the western rim of Endeavour in a region with caches of clay minerals indicative of an ancient Martian habitable zone.

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