QUOTE (Tesheiner @ Dec 29 2006, 06:37 PM)
Now it's time to continue exploring Home Plate.
Not so fast, I'm afraid...Planetary.org rover update
On Sol 1061 (December 28, 2006), however, the dust in the atmosphere at the Columbia Hills site increased, Spirit's power levels dropped to 267 watt hours, the lowest ever on the mission. "If the dust were to be elevated for an extended period of time, it could be life-threatening to the rover," said John Callas, MER project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), mission control for the rovers. "The opacity of the atmosphere was up around .9 and the power was way down," Arvidson confirmed Friday, December 29. That essentially meant the rover was in the dark.
With Spirit going into a 3-sol plan for New Year's and because the MER team had no way of knowing what was going to happen with the atmospheric opacity over the weekend, it decided to close out the experiment on Esperanza early and abort the weekend plan. "Instead, we did a drive that put us on a 7.4 degree tilt surface to the north," Arvidson said, and the rover's power rose back up to 285 watt hours, the level it was at for much of the winter at Low Ridge. "We feel a lot more comfortable now about the vehicle's survivability," Arvidson said. Spirit, which has driven about 6.9 kilometers (4.3 miles) and returned more than 88,500 images to date, is currently taking it easy, closing out 2006 by conducting atmospheric measurements and conserving energy.
Let's hope things get better in the new year...