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Emily LakdawallaJanuary 20, 2006

Opportunity has finally moved!

Hooray for the Mars Exploration Rover team! Looks like those crafty engineers have overcome another speed bump on Opportunity's road -- Opportunity has finally shifted position. Here is a six-frame animation from the right forward hazard camera captured over the last four sols. First you see the robotic arm deployed on the outcrop, then it has flipped up out of position (but you can still see its elbow). Then it seems to "settle down" into a deeper bend. Finally, Oppy's wheels toe in for a turn, and it shifts and then rolls what looks like a meter or so forward. It's not much -- but it's very very significant after 56 days of sitting still.
Views from Opportunity's Forward Hazard Camera, Sols 704-707

NASA / JPL / Emily Lakdawalla

Views from Opportunity's Forward Hazard Camera, Sols 704-707
After sitting in one position for 56 sols, Opportunity finally moved to a new position on sol 707. This is a six-frame animation composed of Right Forward Hazard Camera images captured on sols 704, 706, and 707. Note the "elbow" of the robotic arm visible in the upper left corner of the images; Opportunity now holds its arm with the "hand" resting on the rover deck.
The images I used for this animation were:
1F190680237EFF64KCP1214R0M1 (sol 704)
F190865059EFF64KCP1201R0M1 (sol 706)
F190865275EFF64KCP1214R0M1 (sol 706)
F190952287EFF64KIP1212R0M1 (sol 707)
F190952522EFF64KKP1226R0M1 (sol 707)
F190953090EFF64KSP1214R0M1 (sol 707)

The reason I bolded those four letters/numbers in the middle is to point out a major step for Opportunity. The letters and numbers in that position in the filenames of the rover images refer to the "site" and "drive" position for Opportunity -- the "site" number has been counting up throughout the mission as Opportunity roves from one place to another, and the "drive" number ticks over within each site. Oppy has been stuck at 64KC for an awfully long time, capturing thousands of pictures with that site and drive number, more I'm sure than for any other site/drive pair for either rover throughout the mission by a very large factor. (I tried to count all the images with that site and drive number that I have downloaded with the Midnight Mars Browser, but my computer is choking at counting that many). Anyway, hooray again for Opportunity; I'm looking forward to new sites and new drives!

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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