Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Activities at Malin Space Science Systems

Mars Exploration Rover
Mars Exploration Rover (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

MER-A (Spirit) Launch: 10 June 2003 Landing: 4 January 2004 Status: Contact efforts concluded 25 May 2011
MER-B (Opportunity) Launch: 7 July 2003 Landing: 25 January 2004 Status: Contact efforts concluded 13 February 2019

Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) has played critical roles in the Mars Exploration Rover mission, including:

  • During Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL), each rover transmitted telemetry to the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Relay antenna. These data went into the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) buffer, and from there were returned to Earth via Malin Space Science Systems. Because of the timing with which these data were received, MSSS personnel were the first to have definitive evidence that each rover had landed safely.
  • MGS MOC, operated by MSSS, acquired hundreds of images, including stereo pairs, of potential MER landing sites. These were used to help evaluate where the two rovers should land and to assess landing site geology and wide angle images to monitor the weather of these regions.
  • MGS MOC acquired images of each rover, their tracks, and landing hardware on the Martian surface (see icons below).
  • MGS MOC wide angle images were used to monitor and predict weather that might affect the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. This weather monitoring has continued at MSSS with the MRO MARCI. Weather conditions are reported to the MER team each week and to the general public via the weekly weather report.
  • Michael Malin, President of MSSS, is a member of the MER science investigation team, and Principal Investigator for the MGS MOC. Some MSSS operations personnel have participated in the operation of MER instruments.

Mars Relay for the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity

2002 MSSS Fall AGU Poster regarding Sedimentary Rocks of Sinus Meridiani (PDF) December 2002

Raw MOC Images of MER Landing Sites February 2000 to November 2003

Finding MERs -- how Mars Relay and MOC data were planned to be used to locate the landers

MSSS Involvement in MER Missions


MER and Beagle 2 Weather Reports

MOC MER Weather Reports

MOC View of Spirit Rover on Husband Hill

Spirit on Husband Hill

Spirit's Trek to the Columbia Hills

Spirit's Trek to the Columbia Hills

Spirit Rover Tracks

Spirit and its Tracks

Apollinaris Patera

Apollinaris, Gusev, and Spirit

MOC View of Spirit Rover

MOC View of Spirit

MOC WA View of Gusev Crater During Spirit's Landing

Gusev During Spirit's Landing

Dust Devil Track Changes at Spirit Landing Site

Dust Devil Streaks at Spirit's Landing Site

MOC and THEMIS Mosaic of Spirit Landing Ellipse

Spirit Landing Ellipse Mosaic

Gusev Crater

Gusev Crater

Meridiani Planum (Opportunity Landing Site)

Meridiani Planum

Opportunity at Erebus Crater

Opportunity at Erebus Crater

Opportunity Rover Seen From Orbit

VIew of Opportunity from Orbit

Clouds Over Opportunity

Opportunity's Clouds

MOC View of Opportunity Landing Site

Opportunity Landing Site


Opportunity Site Before and After Landing

Opportunity: Before and After Landing

MOC Views of Opportunity

MOC Views of Opportunity

Opportunity Landing Ellipse

Opportunity Landing Ellipse Mosaic



NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission NASA's Mars Exploration Program