Feeds

Mars rovers roving again, for now

Skies clear, but dust poses new threat

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Giant dust storms that have pinned the Mars rovers down for the last six weeks are beginning to lift, allowing the two explorers to restart their slow crawl over the red planet's surface.

Opportunity is once again rolling along. Credit: NASA/Opportunity

The storms have blotted out the light from the sun, leaving the craft virtually powerless as their solar panels lay in shadow. When the severity of the storms became clear, mission managers elected to have the craft hibernate to ride it out. Then, earlier this week, NASA said the craft could resume their exploration.

Although the skies are now clearer, it will also take some time for the skies to clear properly, as project scientist Bruce Banerdt explains: "The clearing could take months. There is a lot of very fine material suspended high in the atmosphere."

As this dust settles it poses a new threat to the rovers: the particles are landing on the Rovers' solar panels, reducing their electricity supply. And although a kind wind shifted some dust from Opportunity's panels earlier this week, they are not out of the woods yet.

Mission managers directed the rover to head for the slope of the Victoria crater. This will mean the solar panels will be pointing directly at the sun, allowing the little craft to maximise its photon collection.

The dust is causing other problems for Opportunity's twin, Spirit: very fine particles have landed on the lens of the microscopic imager, slightly reducing the quality of the data it can collect. NASA boffins are trying to work out how to shift the build-up.

Both rovers are now generating around 300 watt hours from their panels. This is more than twice as much as five weeks ago, but less than half the output prior to the storm. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.