Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, February 22, 2014

MVNews this week:  Page 12

HOMES & PROPERTY Mountain Views-News Saturday, February 22, 2014 
HOMES & PROPERTY Mountain Views-News Saturday, February 22, 2014 
When listing your home, you may need to move before a sale takes place. If you vacate the home, 
it’s very important that you notify your insurance company, because many homeowner policies have 
a “vacancy clause” that goes into effect once the home is unoccupied, usually for more than 30 to 60 

Insurers see different risks in vacant homes, like vandalism, systems failures, or other liabilities. In 
most cases, you’ll simply purchase an endorsement to your existing policy, but different insurers have 
different options, and if an endorsement is not available, you can get a separate “vacant-home” policy.
It may be an additional cost, but it’s called “insurance” for a reason, and could save you a lot of money 
down the road. If you don’t notify your insurance agent about vacating your home, they could reject 
any claims you file for property damage or liability, or accuse you of insurance fraud. 

It may be tempting to just hope that your home will sell within 30 to 60 days after you have to move 
out, but it’s critical to speak with your insurance agent before you move to discuss your options. They 
may even pro-rate and refund part of your premium if you sell before the end of the policy’s term. It’s 
a small price to pay to protect your home and your peace of mind. 

Researchers have determined the now-infamous Martian rock resembling a jelly 
doughnut, dubbed Pinnacle Island, is a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the 
wheel of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in early January.

 Only about 1.5 inches wide, the white-rimmed, red-centered rock caused a stir last 
month when it appeared in an image the rover took Jan. 8 at a location where it was not 
present four days earlier.

 More recent images show the original piece of rock struck by the rover’s wheel, 
slightly uphill from where Pinnacle Island came to rest.

 “Once we moved Opportunity a short distance, after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we 
could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” said 
Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University in 
St. Louis. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came 

 Examination of Pinnacle Island revealed high levels of elements such as manganese 
and sulfur, suggesting these water-soluble ingredients were concentrated in the rock 
by the action of water. “This may have happened just beneath the surface relatively 
recently,” Arvidson said, “or it may have happened deeper below ground longer ago and 
then, by serendipity, erosion stripped away material above it and made it accessible to 
our wheels.”

 Now that the rover is finished inspecting this rock, the team plans to drive Opportunity 
south and uphill to investigate exposed rock layers on the slope.

 Opportunity is approaching a boulder-studded ridge informally named the McClure-
Beverlin Escarpment, in honor of engineers Jack Beverlin and Bill McClure. Beverlin 
and McClure were the first recipients of the NASA Medal of Exceptional Bravery for 
their actions on Feb. 14, 1969, to save NASA’s second successful Mars mission, Mariner 
6, when the launch vehicle began to crumple on the launch pad from loss of pressure.

 “Our team working on Opportunity’s continuing mission of exploration and discovery 
realizes how indebted we are to the work of people who made the early missions to Mars 
possible, and in particular to the heroics of Bill McClure and Jack Beverlin,” said rover 
team member James Rice of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Ariz. “We felt this 
was really a fitting tribute to these brave men, especially with the 45th anniversary of 
their actions coming today.”

 Opportunity’s work on the north-facing slope below the escarpment will give the 
vehicle an energy advantage by tilting its solar panels toward the winter sun. Feb. 14 
is the winter solstice in Mars’ southern hemisphere, which includes the region where 
Opportunity has been working since it landed in January 2004.

 “We are now past the minimum solar-energy point of this Martian winter,” said 
Opportunity Project Manager John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 
Pasadena, Calif. “We now can expect to have more energy available each week. What’s 
more, recent winds removed some dust from the rover’s solar array. So we have higher 
performance from the array than the previous two winters.”

 During Opportunity’s decade on Mars, and the 2004-2010 career of its twin, Spirit, 
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project has yielded a range of findings proving wet 
environmental conditions on ancient Mars—some very acidic, others milder and more conducive to supporting life. You can contact Bob Eklund at: 

This image from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows 
the location of a rock called “Pinnacle Island” had been before it appeared in front of the rover in earlyJanuary 2014. This image was taken during the 3,567th Martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s work on 
Mars (Feb. 4, 2014). Photo courtesy