SETI public: Fw: Newly Launched 'Opportunity' Follows Mars-Bound 'Spirit'

From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Tue Jul 08 2003 - 09:55:54 PDT

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2003 2:22 AM
    To: ljk4_at_msn.com
    Subject: Newly Launched 'Opportunity' Follows Mars-Bound 'Spirit'

    Guy Webster (818) 354-6278
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    Don Savage (202) 358-1727
    NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

    News Release 2003-095
                    July 7, 2003
         
    Newly Launched 'Opportunity' Follows Mars-Bound 'Spirit'

    NASA launched its second Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, late
    Monday night aboard a Delta II launch vehicle whose bright glare
    briefly illuminated Florida Space Coast beaches.

    Opportunity's dash to Mars began with liftoff at 11:18:15 p.m. Eastern
    Daylight Time (8:18:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time) from Cape Canaveral
    Air Force Station, Fla.

    The spacecraft separated successfully from the Delta's third stage 83
    minutes later, after it had been boosted out of Earth orbit and onto a
    course toward Mars. Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion
    Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received a signal from Opportunity at
    12:43 a.m. Tuesday EDT (9:43 p.m. Monday PDT) via the Goldstone,
    Calif., antenna complex of NASA's Deep Space Network.

    All systems on the spacecraft are operating as expected, JPL's Richard
    Brace, Mars Exploration Rover deputy project manager, reported.

    "We have a major step behind us now," said Pete Theisinger, project
    manager. "There are still high-risk parts of this mission ahead of us,
    but we have two spacecraft on the way to Mars, and that's wonderful."

    NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science Dr. Ed Weiler said,
    "Opportunity joins Spirit and other Mars-bound missions from the
    European Space Agency, Japan and the United Kingdom, which together
    mark the most extensive exploration of another planet in history. This
    ambitious undertaking is an amazing feat for Planet Earth and the
    human spirit of exploration."

    As of early Tuesday, Opportunity's twin, Spirit, has traveled 77
    million kilometers (48 million miles) since its launch on June 10 and
    is operating in good health.

    Opportunity is scheduled to arrive at a site on Mars called Meridiani
    Planum on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time (evening of Jan. 24, Eastern
    and Pacific times), three weeks after Spirit lands in a giant crater
    about halfway around the planet.

    NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter has identified deposits at
    Meridiani Planum of a type of mineral that usually forms in wet
    environments. Both rovers will function as robotic geologists,
    examining rocks and soil for clues about whether past environments at
    their landing sites may have been hospitable to life.

    JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
    It built the rovers and manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for
    the NASA Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
    Information about the rovers and the scientific instruments they carry
    is available online from JPL at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer and from
    Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., at http://athena.cornell.edu
    http://athena.cornell.edu/.
         
                                                                     -end-


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