Space Image: Dusty Mars rover's self portrait

Mar 23, 2012
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

(PhysOrg.com) -- This self portrait from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows dust accumulation on the rover's solar panels as the mission approached its fifth Martian winter. The dust reduces the rover's power supply, and the rover's mobility is limited until the winter is over or wind cleans the panels.

This is a mosaic of images taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) during the 2,111th to 2,814th Martian days, or sols, of the rover's mission (Dec. 21 to Dec. 24, 2011). The downward-looking view omits the mast on which the camera is mounted.

The portrait is presented in approximate true color, the camera team's best estimate of what the scene would look like if humans were there and able to see it with their own eyes.

Opportunity has worked through four Martian southern hemisphere winters since it landed in in January 2004 about 14 miles (23 kilometers) northwest of its current location. Closer to the equator than its twin rover, Spirit, Opportunity has not needed to stay on a sun-facing slope during the previous winters. Now, however, Opportunity's solar panels carry a thicker coating of dust, and the team is using a strategy employed for three winters with Spirit: staying on a sun-facing slope. The sun will pass relatively low in the northern sky from the rover's perspective for several months of shortened daylight before and after the southern Mars on March 30, 2012. Opportunity is conducting research while located on the north-facing slope of a site called "Greeley Haven."

Explore further: Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Greeley Haven' is winter workplace for Mars rover

Jan 06, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity will spend the next several months at a site informally named "Greeley Haven." The name is a tribute to planetary geologist Ronald Greeley (1939-2011), ...

NASA's Hibernating Mars Rover May Not Call Home

Jul 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA mission controllers have not heard from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit since March 22, and the rover is facing its toughest challenge yet -- trying to survive the harsh Martian winter. ...

Mars rover Spirit misses communication session

Apr 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit skipped a planned communication session on March 30 and, as anticipated from recent power-supply projections, has probably entered a low-power hibernation ...

Spirit's Solar Panels Still Shiny After All This Time

Jan 06, 2006

The most recent self-portrait of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the solar panels still gleaming in the martian sunlight and carrying only a thin veneer of dust two years after the rover landed and ...

Durable NASA rover beginning ninth year of Mars work

Jan 25, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Eight years after landing on Mars for what was planned as a three-month mission, NASA's enduring Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is working on what essentially became a new mission five ...

Recommended for you

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

4 hours ago

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

7 hours ago

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

23 hours ago

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...