Mars Rovers Getting Ready for Another Adventure

Posted on August 30, 2007  Comments (4)

Mars Rover

Mars rovers begin to stir as dust storms recede

NASA’s twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are starting to move again after being immobilised for six weeks by severe dust storms. The storms hit in late June, just as Opportunity was poised to enter the 800-metre-wide Victoria crater, which may contain crucial geological records of past conditions on Mars.

Lofting dust high in the atmosphere, the storms blocked precious sunlight needed for the rover solar panels to generate power. Both rovers had to stop driving, and Opportunity was so starved of power that its handlers worried it might freeze to death during the cold Martian night. Now, the storms have finally receded and both rovers are about to start driving towards much-anticipated targets.

Opportunity is getting about 300 watt-hours of energy per day, more than twice the level it was getting during the worst part of the storms. But it is still not enough to start the descent into the crater, Arvidson says: “We want to make sure if we have some mobility problems that there’s energy to spare to get out of the problem areas.”

These rovers just keep going. From a NASA press release last October: “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.”

Image credit: NASA/JPL Artist’s concept of the Mars Exploration Rover on Mars.High Resolution Image

Related: NASA Mars Exploration Rover siteMars Rover (2005)

4 Responses to “Mars Rovers Getting Ready for Another Adventure”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Astronaut self shot photo
    February 1st, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

    NASA Astronaut self portrait photo – over earth.

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Mars Sunset
    June 4th, 2008 @ 7:13 pm

    Photo from 19 May 2005 by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars

  3. CuriousCat: NASA Set to Test Mars Ice
    July 4th, 2008 @ 8:54 am

    “NASA scientists say they are ‘flabbergasted’ to find that soil on Mars appears rich enough to grow such Earth-bound plants as asparagus.”

  4. Curious Cat: Mars Rover Continues Exploration
    September 23rd, 2008 @ 11:39 am

    “The ageing but intrepid Mars rover Opportunity is set to embark on a two-year mission it may never complete – a seven-mile journey to a crater far bigger than one it has called home for two years…”

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