Opportunity Twitters Self Portrait


The Mars Exploration Rovers are now tweeting on Twitter, and Opportunity recently shared what she’s been doing since climbing out of Victoria crater via a shadow self portrait. After seeing a one-time electrical spike on Opportunity’s left front wheel, mission managers decided to have the rover climb out of the crater and get back on level ground. Opportunity is now examining some fist sized rocks, or cobbles, that might be ejecta from far away craters. Spirit, over on the other side of the Red Planet is weathering out the end of the southern hemisphere Martian winter. Another Twitter report from the rovers said that Spirit’s solar array energy is now up slightly from 235 to 245 watt hours. Power levels will have to rise a little more before Spirit can resume exploring actively.

Spirit's southern tilt.  Credit:  NASA/JPL/Cornell
Spirit's southern tilt. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

Spirit has had to park on a north facing tilt in order to gather as much sunlight, and the image above shows the tilt. In the latest rover flight director video report, rover driver Scott Maxwell said the team is keeping an eye on the weather near Spirit’s, location watching for any rise in atmospheric dust. Dust has gathered on the rover’s solar panels, and any additional dust would hamper power levels as well. But so far everything is looking good, and Martian skies were actually clearer this past week.

Both rovers have been operating for more than 1,600 Martian sols, or days on Mars. A sol on Mars in about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day.

3 Replies to “Opportunity Twitters Self Portrait”

  1. Dust has gathered on the rover’s solar panels, and any additional dust would hamper power levels as well.

    Okay, here’s one thing that has annoyed me since Pathfinder – why don’t they put a long brush, like a windshield wiper on the solar panels to sweep the dust off when it accumulates too much? Sure, you wouldn’t want to keep sweeping them every day – it would scratch the panels – but you could swipe them once the dust gets too think! It’s not like we didn’t know there’s dust storms on Mars…

  2. At something like $$5000 per kilo of mass launched, any spacecraft in an exercise is compromise. Yes, they could have developed an anti-dusting system to go with the rovers but that would have meant that one or more of the science packages couldn’t go along. Both rovers only had a 90 Sol life expectancy so dust was planned for and expected. What wasn’t expected was the martian dust devils that occasionally cleaned the solar panels.

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