Current Weather
The Spy FM

Mars Rover Opportunity Emerges From Winter Doldrums, Gets Back On Move

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
May 10, 2012

With the darkest days of the Martian winter now over, NASA took its Opportunity Mars Rover for a drive this week. The rover had been stationary while its solar panels lacked enough sunlight to power its batteries.

The rover’s drive Tuesday was a short one: “about 12 feet northwest and downhill,” according to NASA. The agency says Opportunity has driven 21.4 miles since it landed on Mars in January of 2004.

Opportunity’s current area of southern Mars reached its winter solstice at the end of March. And that means the rover’s “break time” is over.

For NPR’s Newscast, Joe Palca filed this report:

“Opportunity has been sitting still since last December. It uses panels to charge its batteries, and they just can’t generate enough electricity during the winter. It takes a lot of energy to drive across the Martian sand.”

“The rover has been exploring the Meridiani region of Mars for more than 8 years — far longer than the three months it was nominally supposed to operate. It’s now perched at the top of a large crater known as Endeavor.”

“Opportunity’s twin rover hasn’t been heard from in two years… but if all goes according to plan, a new, much larger rover called the Mars Science Laboratory will land on Mars this summer.”

The new rover is called Curiosity; it was launched last November. Curiosity is expected to arrive at the Gale Crater on Mars in August.

In the meantime, NASA expects Opportunity to have plenty of material to study in the Endeavour Crater, which is “more than 20 times wider than Victoria Crater, which Opportunity examined for two years,” according to the agency.

A NASA release explains, “One type of deposit detected from orbit at some locations on Endeavour’s rim contains ancient clay minerals, interpreted as evidence of ancient, wet conditions with less acidity than the ancient, wet environments recorded at sites Opportunity visited during its first seven years on Mars.”

As NPR’s Robert Krulwich reported last month, NASA’s rovers have also captured photographs of blue sunsets on Mars. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center