"Five thousand sols after the start of our 90-sol mission, this fantastic rover is still showing us surprises on Mars", noted Project Manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) via an agency-issued release. It has documented and characterized a huge range of rocks and soils, and discovered evidence of past water activity on Mars. The images reviled by NASA show some ground texture which is quite similar to the mountain slopes present on Earth which made by a process of freezing and thawing of wet soil for many years.
Space agencies around the world have sent their own rovers equipped with advanced instruments like NASA's Pathfinder mission carried Sojourner in 1997 however, it broke down it just 3 months after being deployed.
Opportunity, which has been on the surface of Mars since January 25, 2004, made a landmark Saturday, when it saw its 5,000th Martian dawn. NASA called the discovery as surprising.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in a blog, "A Martian "sol" lasts about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day, and a Martian year lasts almost two Earth years". On the other hand, NASA informed that the reason behind that could be the wind, downhill transport or some combination of various processes.
"The SHERLOC instrument is a valuable opportunity to prepare for human spaceflight as well as to perform fundamental scientific investigations of the Martian surface", said Marc Fries, a SHERLOC co-investigator. And in March 2015, the Opportunity officially reached the distance run in a marathon race, traveling 42.195 kilometers, or 26.219 miles.
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"Debris from relatively fresh impact craters is scattered over the surface of the area, complicating assessment of effects of wind", Opportunity science-team member Robert Sullivan, of Cornell University, said in a different statement.
"Perseverance Valley is a special place, like having a new mission again after all these years", said Ray Arvidson of Washington University and the Deputy Investigator for the Opportunity mission. It's mysterious. It's exciting. "I don't know what these stripes are, and I don't think anyone else knows for sure what they are, so we're entertaining multiple hypotheses and gathering more data to figure it out".
As per the information given by NASA, the rover has been traveled more than 45 kilometers and during its journey, it has provided around 225, 000 images. The scientists are also looking into some possible explanations for the stripes and try to know whether these texture origins from modern Mars or an ancient Mars.
After further analyzing some clues, some of the researchers stated that such formations could've only appeared under the action of ice, wind, and/or water.