Monday, August 13, 2007

Rover situtations look optimistic

Good news! According to a NASA press release, the rovers are STILL alive, and the dust storm seems to be settling down slightly. The storm has settled enough for the batteries on Opportunity to become fully charged again; Spirit's batteries are almost charged. The rovers are also back to doing science, Spirit moved its arm for the first time in three weeks! For a synopsis of how things have improved, here it is:
Energy production from solar arrays increased to 295 watt hours on Spirit's 1,276th Martian day, or sol, which ended early Aug. 6, and to 243 watt hours on Opportunity's sol 1,255 which ended midday Aug. 5. The solar panels generate electricity from sunlight. Dust storms obscuring the sun have cut daily output as low as 261 watt hours on Spirit and 128 watt hours on Opportunity in recent weeks, compared with levels above 700 watt hours per sol before the current series of Martian dust storms began in June. One hundred watt hours is what it takes to run a 100-watt bulb for one hour.

The increased output from the solar panels, though slight, has allowed Opportunity to fully charge its batteries and Spirit to bring its batteries to nearly full charge. Also, the temperature of the core electronics module on Opportunity, which was of concern when it fell to minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 37 Celsius) last week, has increased to minus 28.1 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 33.4 degrees Celsius).

Those indestructible rovers!

1 comment:

Zeno said...

It was my privilege to be a student at Caltech during the Mariner 9 orbital mission to Mars. The dust storms subsided early one fall term and the school paper published some of the first photographs of the Martian surface transmitted from Mariner. Students working over at JPL had hustled the pics on campus at their first opportunity. It was great, and exciting.

The story of the rovers, though, is even better.