Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty
Blogs

See other posts from August 2007

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

"Concern Increasing" for Opportunity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

2007/08/01 08:46 CDT

Topics: Opportunity, mission status, Mars Exploration Rovers

Yesterday evening the Mars Exploration Rover mission posted an update that states "increasing concern" for the continued health of Opportunity. Although the skies are not quite as dark as they have been, dust is now beginning to settle on the solar panels, so "the rover is producing barely as much energy as it is using in a very-low-power regimen it has been following since July 18." Its low-power regimen has allowed it to remain power-positive until now, but because the rover has been inactive, its core temperature has been dropping by one degree Celsius per day. Now the temperature has dropped to -37°C, within 2° of triggering the power-on of survival heaters. Those heaters, if turned on, will quickly deplete Opportunity's remaining power. The only thing that the mission can do is to command more activities, a plan that will make Opportunity "power-negative," but which will warm up the rover enough to avoid the power-on of those heaters.

According to project manager John Callas, "This means there is a real risk that Opportunity will trip a low-power fault sometime during this plan. When a low-power fault is tripped, the rover's systems take the batteries off-line, putting the rover to sleep and then checking each sol to see if there is sufficient available energy to wake up and perform daily fault communications. If there is not sufficient energy, Opportunity will stay asleep. Depending on the weather conditions, Opportunity could stay asleep for days, weeks or even months, all the while trying to charge her batteries with whatever available sunlight there might be.

 

Or read more blog entries about: Opportunity, mission status, Mars Exploration Rovers

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

Curiosity departs Earth

Mars Science Laboratory on its way
Asteroid 2005 YU55
NGC 6960, The Veil Nebula
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!