Dust from the sky has settled on both the rover deck and the surrounding landscape. The dust-covered solar cells will not be able to generate as much power as when they were clean. Unless a puff of wind dusts off the solar panels, Spirit may have difficulty surviving the approaching Martian winter.
A couple of days ago Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) issued a news notice that explains some of the horse-trading that went on behind the scenes to rescue MARDI, the descent imaging camera that they are building for the Mars Science Laboratory rover.
After three days of presentations, voting, and extended discussions, the "Mars community," as represented by something over 100 scientists who decided to attend the second Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) landing site selection meeting in a process that was open to all, have narrowed down to six the number of potential MSL landing sites.
Unlike the Mars Exploration Rover mission, which featured two golf-cart-sized landers, this time we have only one giant, Volkswagen beetle-size. So at the end of this process we have to pick our favorite place on Mars, not our favorite two places.
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.