Mission Day # 1,271:
After a 6 week worldwide dust storm has finally ended, the Mars rovers are out and about once again, with Opportunity making a bee-line for the slope of Victoria crater to help shake off the flees while in an inclined position.
NASA had put the two rovers into hibernate mode over a month ago since the sun light would be blocked and they’d effectively be without a means to recharge the batteries.
However, though the sky has cleared somewhat, project scientist Bruce Banerdt says “The clearing could take months. There is a lot of very fine material suspended high in the atmosphere.”
And as those fine particulates fall from from the heavens they are posing an additional challenge in that they cover the solar panels causing the rovers to again be without a means of recharging. Perhaps future versions of the bots need some kind of squeegee mounted to the panels? This is the reason for sending Opportunity up the hill, crossing fingers that the sand will fall off.
One more problem arising from the dust – particulate matter has embedded itself on the optics of the microscopic imaging equipment, reducing its photo quality.
Hey, the warranty ran out on these buggers long ago, prop them up with duct tape and bubble gum if you have to, we’re basically getting all kinds of data and learning experiences for free now baby.
Read the NASA Mission News report on the rovers for full details.