After spending nearly five months conducting experiments in one spot, the NASA rover moved for the first time this week. Engineers will check its power supply before directing it north to study dust and bedrock.
PASADENA, Calif. (AP)—The Mars rover Opportunity is on the go again.
spending nearly five months conducting experiments in one spot, the
NASA rover moved for the first time this week, rolling off the rock
outcrop where it hunkered down for the Martian winter.
mission team received confirmation late Tuesday that Opportunity
successfully drove downhill. Engineers will check its power supply
before directing it north to study dust and bedrock.
will have to wait until there’s more sunlight before it can head south
where there’s tantalizing evidence of clay deposits believed to have
formed in a warm and wet environment early in Mars’ history.
landing in 2004, Opportunity has surpassed expectations. Its twin
Spirit lost contact in 2010 not long after it got stuck in a sand trap.
Report from NASA on Opportunity status, posted May 8, 2012:
After being stationary for 130 sols during the winter, Opportunity has resumed driving again.
Sol 2947 (May 8, 2012), the rover performed a 12-ft (3.7-m) drive down
from her winter perch, called “Greeley Haven.” As expected, the rover’s
northerly tilt decrease from around 15 degrees down to about 8 degrees.
All wheel currents, including the right-front wheel, were nominal. With
this drive, Opportunity has concluded the radio Doppler geo-dynamics
campaign with 60 radio Doppler tracking passes successfully accomplished
over the winter.
plan ahead is first to drive toward a nearby putative dusty target to
examine the nature and origin of Martian dust, then locate a wider,
light-toned vein around the north end of Cape York for further in-situ
investigation, among other objectives.
of Sol 2947 (May 8, 2012), solar array energy production was 357 W-h
with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.476 and a solar array dust factor
Total odometry is 21.35 miles (34,365.04 m).
Source: The Associated Press