Opportunity report, Sol 4331, by A.J.S. Rayl, The Planetary Society

20160403_2-Sol-4311-031016-last-attempt-to-Whitehouse-April 4, 2016: Opportunity Soldiers through Martian March Madness: As March Madness on Earth sent sports fans into their annual kinetic frenzy watching more than 60 American teams battle it out for college basketball’s grandest title, Opportunity was experiencing her own Martian brand of March Madness. The pace may have been slower and her skill, tenacity, talent, and frustration weren’t displayed on national television, but for some robot fans, the rover’s valiant determination to reach a certain bedrock target may, actually, have been even more exciting.

On a steep slope of Knudsen Ridge in Marathon Valley, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) pushed the limits of her human-given capability with a resolve that had everyone following her adventures and her ops team marveling. Opportunity was taking on tough terrain, a rubble laden Martian wall, too treacherous for her bigger, badder, laser-toting cousin, Curiosity, to even think about climbing.

The rover’s objective was to reach a target at the bottom of an outcrop that caps that part of Knudsen Ridge. “But it was on a steeper slope than either Spirit or Opportunity ever climbed,” said Ray Arvidson, MER deputy principal investigator, of Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL). There was also a light blanket of loose soil on her path up and some of the rocks broke up and crumbled under her wheels. [More at link]

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