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

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Conjunction season is over, and Opportunity is back to work

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

17-02-2011 16:04 CST

Topics: Mars, Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity

The flow of data from Mars has resumed. Mars passed through solar conjunction on February 4, meaning that all of the active spacecraft spent at least a couple of weeks in a period of very low activity. It's not that Mars being in conjunction inherently represents any risk to the spacecraft; it's just that if a spacecraft managed to get in trouble while doing routine operations, we wouldn't have been able to help it by sending up any commands. For the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, poised at the edge of Santa Maria crater, there was a command moratorium in place from January 27 to February 11.

It's always a relief when conjunction passes. Opportunity has gotten right back to work, sending down data acquired just before the moratorium began, including the images that Jan van Driel used to create this panoramic view of Opportunity's somewhat dusty deck:

Opportunity self-portrait, sol 2492

NASA / JPL / mosaic by Jan van Driel

Opportunity self-portrait, sol 2492
Opportunity captured the images for this self-portrait on sol 2492 (January 27, 2011), just before Mars entered solar conjunction.

According to rover driver Scott Maxwell's Twitter feed, they actually didn't get back to driving Opportunity again until February 16 (yesterday). Having spent the break waiting for a Mössbauer spectrometer integration on a rock near the rim of the crater, Scott said, the plan over the next couple of days is to carry on with the in situ investigations, using the RAT to drill into the rock. But I can't imagine they will take too much more time with investigations at Santa Maria; it's time to drive, drive, drive for Endeavour.

As for Spirit, they still haven't given up; as far as I understand it, the plan was to resume attempting contact with the missing rover today. I wish them luck!

 
See other posts from February 2011

 

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

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

LandSat 8 supermoon comparison

The atmospheres of the Solar System
Aricia Tholus, Vesta
3D view of Aricia Tholus, Vesta
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!