Thursday, May 10, 2012

Willie Nelson Has Nothing on Opportunity

The above image, showing Greeley Haven, was taken by the rear hazard-avoidance camera of the Opportunity rover near the end of its first post-winter drive. The shadow on the foreground was made by Opportunity's solar array. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After 130 sols at its winter parking spot, Greeley Haven, the Mar Exploration Rover Opportunity is on the road, again! It has been eight Earth-years and over 34.36 kilometers (21.35 miles) since landing on the Red Planet, and Opportunity isn't showing any signs of slowing down. On May 8, Opportunity made its first move of the season, driving about 12 feet (3.67 meters).

There is quite a bit of dust built up on Opportunity's solar array. So until the wind blows some of it away, Opportunity will be investigating areas that don't have a southward slope. This strategy will ensure that Opportunity is positioned to receive sufficient sunlight for regularly recharging its batteries. Even so, there are plenty "sunny" targets of interest for the Opportunity mission team.

To learn more about Opportunity, as well as NASA's ongoing exploration of the planet Mars, visit NASA's Mars Exploration Program home page:


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