Mars Rover ‘Opportunity’ Moves For First Time In 5 Months
NASA on Thursday confirmed that the Mars rover known as Opportunity has made its first move in five months. The rover had stopped to conduct various experiments and then remained stationary through the martian winter. NASA waited until the time was just right and than navigated the rover away from the rock outcrop where it had been working.
The mission team received confirmation on Tuesday that Opportunity had successfully driven downhill from its previous spot.
NASA engineers must now check the rover Opportunity’s power supply before sending it north where NASA scientists hope to study dust and bedroom in the area.
Engineers would eventually like to send the rover further south where they believe clay deposit were formed in a warm and wet environment during Mars’ early years. Before the Mars rover can head south however the team of scientists must wait for more sunlight to reach the area.
Opportunity has been a resounding success for NASA, having landed in 2004 it has continued its operations unhindered. In comparison the NASA rover Spirit lost contact in 2010 after becoming stuck in a sand trap.
Maneuvering the rover can be a tedious task because of the martian soil and because it runs on solar power which can be limited by the martian winter and the areas for which scientists want to travel.
According to Phsy.Org:
“Opportunity has been exploring the Meridiani region of Mars since landing in January 2004. It arrived at the Cape York section of the rim of Endeavour Crater in August 2011, and has been studying rock and soil targets on Cape York since then.”
In the meantime President Obama has said he would like to see a human expedition to Mars no later than 2030.