WEDNESDAY 11 JANUARY, 2012 |
Mars Solar Rover Settled In For The Winter
We like to keep tabs on how the Mars Rover mission is progressing given solar power has played a huge role in its incredible success - here's the
Opportunity is now positioned for the harsh Mars winter on the north end of
"Cape York" on the rim of Endeavour Crater. The site
(pictured) has been named "Greeley Haven."
The rover is on an angle of around 15 degrees to the north for favourable
solar energy production to keep Opportunity's batteries charged and to power the
heating systems that will prevent its components from freezing up.
The rover may not be totally idle though - the goal is for it to conduct investigations of surface targets reachable by the instruments on the robotic arm.
A challenge NASA is facing in terms of carrying out these activities is Opportunity's solar panels
are currently carrying a thicker coating of dust than during previous winters.
The team is hoping wind will clean the panels in coming weeks, although this is
unlikely they say.
Two rovers - Spirit and Opportunity - landed on Mars' surface way in 2004
with a mission life expected to last only 3 months. The mission has far
exceeded a previous endurance record set by NASA's Viking 1 Lander of six years
and 116 days operating on the surface of Mars.
The rovers were equipped with solar panels able to generate around 140 watts of
power for up to four hours each Martian day under optimal conditions. Energy
storage is in the form of two rechargeable lithium ion batteries weighing just
over 7kg each.
While Opportunity is continuing to power on, its twin Spirit fell silent on
March 22, 2010 after a number of challenges, including becoming bogged. NASA concluded recovery efforts on May 25,
2011 after more than 1,300 commands were issued without response.
Spirit Still Not Responding
Rover Sets Record
Solar Panels Battle On
Mired In Mars Muck
Other news for Wednesday 11 January, 2012
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