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  Mars Exploration Rovers: Spirit and Opportunity (Page 10)

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Author Topic:   Mars Exploration Rovers: Spirit and Opportunity
spaceuk
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posted 09-21-2006 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Really clear images now coming in of the near rim of Victoria crater from MER Opportunity.

Looks like were in for some good geology.

However, may be tricky for MER to descend into Victoria around the present position since the rim appears pretty vertical with deep gullies?

Phill
spaceuk

Scott
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posted 09-27-2006 08:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gettin' closer.

spaceuk
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posted 09-27-2006 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Images are coming down showing interior of Victoria (rippled dunes?) and the very jagged and very steep crater wall.

Unless there is a 'way down' nearer to present position, it looks like a trip down into interior would be very very risky - if not imposible. We'll have to wait for more images of complete rim from ball around crater.

But, boy oh boy, wonderful and fantastic achievement by NASA, JPL and industry teams.

Phill
spaceuk

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-27-2006 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity has arrived at the rim of a crater approximately five times wider than a previous stadium-sized one it studied for half a year.

Initial images from the rover's first overlook after a 21-month journey to "Victoria Crater" show rugged walls with layers of exposed rock and a floor blanketed with dunes. The far wall is approximately one-half mile from the rover.

"This is a geologist's dream come true," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for NASA's twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit. "Those layers of rock, if we can get to them, will tell us new stories about the environmental conditions long ago. We especially want to learn whether the wet era that we found recorded in the rocks closer to the landing site extended farther back in time. The way to find that out is to go deeper, and Victoria may let us do that."

Opportunity has been exploring Mars since January 2004, more than 10 times longer than its original prime mission of three months. It has driven more than 5.7 miles. Most of that was to get from "Endurance" crater to Victoria, across a flat plain pocked with smaller craters and strewn with sand ripples. Frequent stops to examine intriguing rocks interrupted the journey, and one large sand ripple kept the rover trapped for more than five weeks.

"We're so proud of Opportunity, the rover that 'takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'," said Cindy Oda, a Mars rover mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. "It continues to overcome all challenges despite its aging parts and difficult terrain. We are looking forward to exciting new discoveries as Opportunity begins its new adventure exploring Victoria crater."

Spirit, halfway around Mars and farther south of the planet's equator, has been staying at one northward-tilted position through the southern Mars winter for a maximum energy supply for its solar panels. Spirit is conducting studies that benefit from staying in one place, such as monitoring effects of wind on dust. It will begin driving again when the Martian spring increases the amount of solar power available.

Operations for both rovers will be minimized for much of October as Mars passes nearly behind the sun from Earth's perspective, making radio communication more difficult than usual.

Scott
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posted 09-29-2006 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Detailed images of Victoria Crater wall outcrops.

Amazing.

John K. Rochester
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posted 09-29-2006 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Definitely looks like a place I would like to visit!!

music_space
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posted 09-29-2006 03:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shepard and Mitchell vindicated at last!

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Collector of litterature, notebooks, equipment and memories!

cspg
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posted 09-30-2006 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The left side of the crater will surely interest geologists (and may be accessible- looks like there's not too much sand). The right side of the crater looks like a sand trap!

Chris.

tegwilym
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posted 10-02-2006 12:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok, now I need to see it in color! Yeah, I'm greedy!

Tom

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-06-2006 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity near the rim of "Victoria Crater." Victoria is an impact crater about 800 meters (half a mile) in diameter at Meridiani Planum near the equator of Mars. Opportunity has been operating on Mars since January, 2004. Five days before this image was taken, Opportunity arrived at the rim of Victoria, after a drive of more than 9 kilometers (over 5 miles). It then drove to the position where it is seen in this image.

Shown in the image are "Duck Bay," the eroded segment of the crater rim where Opportunity first arrived at the crater; "Cabo Frio," a sharp promontory to the south of Duck Bay; and "Cape Verde," another promontory to the north. When viewed at the highest resolution, this image shows the rover itself, wheel tracks in the soil behind it, and the rover's shadow, including the shadow of the camera mast. After this image was taken, Opportunity moved to the very tip of Cape Verde to perform more imaging of the interior of the crater.

This view is a portion of an image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on Oct. 3, 2006. The complete image is centered at minus7.8 degrees latitude, 279.5 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 297 kilometers (185.6 miles). At this distance the image scale is 29.7 centimeters (12 inches) per pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects about 89 centimeters (35 inches) across are resolved. North is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:30 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 59.7 degrees, thus the sun was about 30.3 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 113.6 degrees, the season on Mars is northern summer.

ejectr
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posted 10-06-2006 11:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow... tell me that isn't cool!

cspg
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posted 10-06-2006 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Truly amazing!

Chris.

tegwilym
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posted 10-06-2006 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I first saw that image and fell out of my chair! That is AMAZING!!!

Also some great shots from the rover are just in too. My new favorite...

mensax
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posted 10-06-2006 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mensax   Click Here to Email mensax     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What are the future plans for Opportunity? Will it venture down into the crater? or circle the crater for a few weeks and then head on to... where?

Noah

MarylandSpace
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posted 10-06-2006 02:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tegwilym:
Also some great shots from the rover are just in too. My new favorite...
Yours is also my favorite -- I think that they wouldn't risk a tumble going down the rim into the crater.

Garry

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-06-2006 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mensax:
Will it venture down into the crater? or circle the crater for a few weeks and then head on to... where?
The latter, for now:
The orbiter images will help the team choose which way to send Opportunity around the rim, and where to stop for the best views.
And from the Washington Post:
The black-and-white image sent back by Opportunity showed craggy rock formations on some of the crater's walls, and sand dunes at its bottom. They also showed sandy landslides down several sides of the crater, slopes that [NASA Project Scientist W. Bruce] Banerdt said may be used as paths for the rover to descend into the crater... Opportunity, which is the size of a riding lawn mower, cannot go down into the crater right now because it is winter on Mars, and the rover's solar panels would not receive enough sunlight to power its motors or operate the radioisotope generator that keeps the robot heated when temperatures plunge lower than 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit... NASA scientists say they expect the rover to remain at the crater for months.

Aztecdoug
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posted 10-06-2006 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mensax:
What are the future plans for Opportunity?
That is a real good question... Does NASA just keep driving these things until they circumnavigate the planet Mars? At what point do they figure it is cheaper to send new rovers to a new location than it costs to drive there?

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Blackarrow
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posted 10-08-2006 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Opportunity is never going to get to a place that's more interesting than where it is right now. It should be driven down into the crater at some location where the cameras will have a good view into Victoria's interior, so they can continue to transmit pictures even if the wheels get permanently trapped. If Opportunity gets down into Victoria but can't get out again, c'est la vie. As good a place as any to get trapped.

fabfivefreddy
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posted 10-08-2006 11:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fabfivefreddy   Click Here to Email fabfivefreddy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
This image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity near the rim of "Victoria Crater."
WOW! A tremendous image. Reminds me of Apollo 8.

Looking at Opportunity from another vantage point shows how lonely she is in the vastness of Mars.

Those little rover tracks were actually made by something we humans created - amazing!

-Tahir

ivorwilliams
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posted 10-09-2006 06:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow! If only there were such images available of the Apollo landing sites. They'd blow the sceptics out of the water.

Ben
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posted 10-09-2006 06:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled for a 2008 launch, should be the one that does.

Philip
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posted 10-20-2006 02:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Check the webpages of James Canvin to see early versions of colored MER panoramas.

Philip
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posted 10-25-2006 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

NASA-JPL posted the McMurdo (color) panorama to celebrate the 1000th sol!

Philip Corneille

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-25-2006 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the related NASA release:
NASA Posts Panorama To Celebrate Rover's 1,000th Martian Day

NASA's long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will finish its 1,000th Martian day Thursday, continuing a successful mission originally planned for 90 Martian days.

A color 360-degree panorama released today -- produced from the most detailed imaging yet completed by either Spirit or its twin, Opportunity -- shows rugged terrain of the robot's current location amid a range of hills. The vista, dubbed the "McMurdo Panorama," comes from Spirit's panoramic camera.

Spirit has been examining the surroundings for several months while perched with a tilt to the north for maximum solar energy during winter in Mars' southern hemisphere. The rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., plans to resume driving the rover in coming weeks as Martian spring approaches.

Spirit landed inside Mars' Gusev Crater on Jan. 3, 2004, PST (Jan. 4 Universal Time). Each Martian day is longer than an Earth day, lasting 24 hours, 39 minutes, 35 seconds. That means that in Earth days, Spirit has been on Mars about 1,026 days.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

And in related news, JPL scientists have reported that Spirit is beginning to resent its extended mission:
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists overseeing the ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission said Monday that the Spirit's latest transmissions could indicate a growing resentment of the Red Planet.

"Spirit has been displaying some anomalous behavior," said Project Manager John Callas, who noted the rover's unsuccessful attempts to flip itself over and otherwise damage its scientific instruments. "And the thousand or so daily messages of 'STILL NO WATER' really point to a crisis of purpose."

tegwilym
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posted 10-26-2006 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That just just way cool. What a great time to be living in, amazing stuff coming down from all the space probes every day!

Again, I just want to print that thing out, put on my 3d glasses and wrap that around my head!

Tom

Philip
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posted 11-18-2006 03:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now check this awesome sight.

Blackarrow
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posted 11-20-2006 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Awesome...absolutely wonderful. But there is a worrying amount of dust all over Opportunity's solar panels. Do we know how much power is being generated today, as a percentage of Sol 1 power (adjusting for the seasonal variation, just to make it complicated!)?

cspg
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posted 01-17-2007 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Feels like WE're almost there! Beautiful picture!

Chris.

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posted 06-27-2007 01:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A dust storm started showing up on the few early images of Mars from this apparition starting about the 25th of this month. I sent Rob Britt of SPACE.com (used an image of mine in a story back in 2005) an e-mail about it and he said he would have some of the staff reporters "make some phone calls". He e-mailed back this morning and said it turns out this storm is raising quite a few eyebrows on the rover teams and they decided to run a story on it.

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posted 06-27-2007 05:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing to add for those interested, unlike the previous dust storms the rovers have been exposed to, this one is very dense, therefore blocking out more light. As of this minute, the storm is bordering, if not already into the s. pole. If it does make it there, the chances are much better of this going global, into the n. hemisphere, where there rovers are. I saw an image this afternoon that showed the storm had reached the Hellas Basin, an ancient dust filled impact crater, so more dust is going into the atmosphere w/o doubt. The rovers have made it though dust storms before, but nothing of long duration or density.

Joel

Lunar rock nut
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posted 07-05-2007 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Joel have you done any recent imaging of the storm and it's little brother? It would appear this event is now causing some heartburn at the rovers mission control. I have been reluctant to drag out my meade 10in due to all of the wet weather we have experienced over the last 30 days.

Terry

Lunatiki
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posted 07-09-2007 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Below is a copy of an e-mail a received from a fellow planetary imager, who also happens to be the best in the business.
Here are some images from this morning. Pretty decent seeing for the low altitude. Some extensive dust obscuration across Solis Lacus extending across Claritas into Daedelia. Aurorae Sinus upto Protei Regio looks very dark. Argyre looks fairly bright, (possibly dust?)

Here are links to colour and mono imagery. Also a simulated image of the time to show what the Planet "should" look like.

tegwilym
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posted 07-09-2007 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Those images are totally amazing! I think he is somehow cheating, but I can't figure it out. Hehe!

Tom

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posted 07-12-2007 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lunatiki:
One thing to add for those interested, unlike the previous dust storms the rovers have been exposed to, this one is very dense, therefore blocking out more light.
Hi Joel, while blocking the light is not a good thing for machines using solar panels for their primary energy source, the real danger to the rovers is the dust settling on their solar panels. There is no cleaning them off and this could end their mission.

Dan

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posted 07-12-2007 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki   Click Here to Email Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hopefully, like past smaller dust events, the panels might actually be cleaned off by winds associated with the dust storm. But those where short-lived events, nothing like the duration of this one. So far the s. hemisphere is still very active with dust and it appears it will be for some time. Not good news for the rovers.

Joel

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posted 07-13-2007 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mars has a history of dust storms that engulf the entire planet and can last for many months. While I agree it does not look good for the rovers, they have already far exceeded their planned mission duration and have also far exceeded the wildest dreams of the people who built and planned their missions. Those two little guys did such a fantastic job that more roving missions are already being planned.

Revel in their sucesses!

Blackarrow
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posted 07-13-2007 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The old addage "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" seems appropriate here. JPL has been thinking about sending "Opportunity" down into Victoria Crater for months. If dust is going to bring the mission to an end in the near future, I suggest it would make seem to go into the crater immediately. Nothing to be lost.

mensax
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posted 07-14-2007 06:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mensax   Click Here to Email mensax     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the rovers were to be covered in dust such that they would no longer be functional... would that mean that that would be the end of them? Or would a future wind, blowing the dust off, put them back into service?

Noah

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posted 07-14-2007 09:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Solar array output on Opportunity prior to the storm was 765 watts. Recent output has been 280 watts. The only mission killer would be dead batteries. The concerns of powering down are the extreme temperature exchanges between night and day. Summer daytime temperatures have been around 70 degrees farenheit and falling to -110 degrees farenheit at night. This causes major expansion and contraction of electrical solder joints. Opportunity has a heater that has been stuck in the on position since landing and recently contributed to a stall in one of the joints in the robotic arm for six days but has since been resolved. When the dust settles they should be o.k. Spirit has faired better than Opportunity through this ordeal. The dust in the atmosphere has caused a 96% reduction in sunlight opposed to a clear sky. They are tough and I believe they will survive.

Terry

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-21-2007 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA: Mars Rovers Caught in Severe Dust Storm
Having explored Mars for three-and-a-half years in what were missions originally designed for three months, NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are facing perhaps their biggest challenge.

For nearly a month, a series of severe Martian summer dust storms has affected the rover Opportunity and, to a lesser extent, its twin, Spirit. The dust in the Martian atmosphere over Opportunity has blocked 99 percent of direct sunlight to the rover, leaving only the limited diffuse sky light to power it. Scientists fear the storms might continue for several days, if not weeks. "We're rooting for our rovers to survive these storms, but they were never designed for conditions this intense," says Alan Stern, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

The animated global map of Mars, here, shows how the opacity of the Martian atmosphere has increased since late June. Blue areas denote clear air, red areas are thick with dust.

If the sunlight is further cut back for an extended period, the rovers will not be able to generate enough power to keep themselves warm or operate at all, even in a near-dormant state. The problem is, Mars is a very cold planet, and the rovers depend on electric heaters to keep some of their vital core electronics warm.

Before the dust storms began blocking sunlight last month, Opportunity's solar panels had been producing about 700 watt hours of electricity per day, enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours. When dust in the air reduced the panels' daily output to less than 400 watt hours, the rover team suspended driving and most observations, including use of the robotic arm, cameras and spectrometers to study the site where Opportunity is located.

On Tuesday, July 17, the output from Opportunity's solar panels dropped to 148 watt hours, the lowest point for either rover. On Wednesday, Opportunity's solar-panel output dropped even lower, to 128 watt hours.

NASA engineers are taking proactive measures to protect the rovers, especially Opportunity, which is experiencing the brunt of the dust storm. The rovers are showing robust survival characteristics. Spirit, in a location where the storm is currently less severe, has been instructed to conserve battery power by limiting its activities.

"We are taking more aggressive action with both rovers than we needed before," said John Callas, project manager for the twin rovers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

By Opportunity's 1,236th Martian day, which ended Tuesday, driving and all science observations had already been suspended. The rover still used more energy than its solar panels could generate on that day, drawing down its battery. "The only thing left to cut were some of the communication sessions," Callas said.

To minimize further the amount of energy Opportunity is using, mission controllers sent commands on Wednesday, July 18, instructing the rover to refrain from communicating with Earth on Thursday and Friday. This is the first time either of the rovers has been told to skip communications for a day or more in order to conserve energy. Engineers calculate that skipping communications sessions should lower daily energy use to less than 130 watt hours.

A possible outcome of this storm is that one or both rovers could be damaged permanently or even disabled. Engineers will assess the capability of each rover after the storm clears.


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