Good afternoon, I’m Byron Jones and this is the mission manager update for the Mars Exploration Rover project.
Over the last month, both vehicles have experienced the worst dust storms since landing on the surface over 1300 sols ago. Over the last 40 sols, neither vehicle has had much activity due to the dust storm. The low energy has challenged the engineering team to come up with techniques to balance battery loads with dropping temperatures. At one point, Opportunity saw a record low of about 120 Watt-hours on the solar arrays. At this time, Martian skies are clearing over Gusev and Meridiani craters and both vehicles are resuming regular science operations. Images taken from Mars Color Imager onboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that there is no dust storms nearby either vehicle, but the atmospheric opacity levels are still high.
Right now it is sol 1307 for Spirit. Last week, Spirit emerged from “Silica Valley” and is now resting on top of “Home Plate”. Over 550 sols ago, Spirit explored the northern tip of “Home Plate” and this time will be investigating the southern region.
On Opportunity, it’s sol 1286. Opportunity weathered out the dust storm sitting about 20 meters from “Duck Bay”. Last week, we drove to within one meter of Victoria’s rim to image “Duck Bay” and potential ingress locations. After close analysis, the team has concluded that the best place to enter “Duck Bay” is actually within meters of the first location we reached there on sol 951.
Well that’s it for today. I’m Byron Jones and that’s what happening on Mars today.