Special Reports

Localization and Physical Property Experiments Conducted by Opportunity at Meridiani Planum

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Science  03 Dec 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5702, pp. 1730-1733
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104211

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The location of the Opportunity landing site was determined to better than 10-m absolute accuracy from analyses of radio tracking data. We determined Rover locations during traverses with an error as small as several centimeters using engineering telemetry and overlapping images. Topographic profiles generated from rover data show that the plains are very smooth from meter- to centimeter-length scales, consistent with analyses of orbital observations. Solar cell output decreased because of the deposition of airborne dust on the panels. The lack of dust-covered surfaces on Meridiani Planum indicates that high velocity winds must remove this material on a continuing basis. The low mechanical strength of the evaporitic rocks as determined from grinding experiments, and the abundance of coarse-grained surface particles argue for differential erosion of Meridiani Planum.

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