The Mars Exploration Rovers have left wheel tracks all over their landing sites, but for some reason this pair of wheel tracks, left in the sand ripple on the rim of Victoria crater and now viewed from below, tickled my fancy. Thanks to James Canvin for the lovely panorama.
Mars Exploration Rover scientists, engineers and enthusiasts have been playing the waiting game for 10 weeks, watching the much-reported dust storm subside so that Opportunity could get back to doing what it does best - exploring craters.
I just received another batch of "tau" images from rover camera lead Jim Bell to add to my visualizations of the rovers' dark skies. These pictures provide a direct measurement of the opacity of the atmosphere between the rovers and the Sun.
I haven't written an update on the dust storm at Mars recently for two reasons. For one, the rovers are out of immediate danger, so it wasn't as urgent. The other reason is that Jim Bell wanted Cornell to issue a press release with updated versions of the images and animations I've been putting together from the rovers' "tau" images.
Although Mars' atmosphere continues to be rather dusty, the storm has abated enough that both Mars Exploration Rovers have resumed a relatively normal level of activity. For Opportunity, that means a drive to the very edge of Victoria crater.
Both Spirit and Opportunity are still suffering under incredibly dark skies, but, amazingly, they are both "power-positive," meaning that they are managing to produce enough power from the limited amount of sunlight to keep the batteries fully charged.