Scientists prove it: a girl knows how to make up her mind. The image above shows the first target object – that football-sized layered rock – autonomously chosen by the Mars rover Opportunity on March 4. Opportunity selected the rock after taking a series of wide-angle panoramic images of the area and using her new AEGIS software (which stands for Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science.) The rock fit all the prerequisites for an object of interest to scientists, and so was chosen for further investigation.
With her new program, Opportunity will be able to spot interesting features that MER scientists might miss. She may not be as young as she used to be, but she’s definitely getting wiser. 😉
“It found exactly the target we would want it to find…it’s still amazing to see Opportunity performing a new autonomous activity after more than six years on Mars.”
– Tara Estlin, rover driver and senior member of JPL’s Artificial Intelligence Group
See the official NASA image release here.