The spacecraft Opportunity received a new round in life after the Red Planet presented several surprises, in the form of strong winds, clearing the rover.
When NASA engineers developed the Mars Spirit and Opportunity missions, they were pessimistic about their lifespan. From the time of landing in 2004, as expected, the twin robots had to work no more than 3 months and the biggest danger they had to face was dust sticking to the solar batteries of the rovers. And the dust really stuck.
But Mars would not be Mars if it had not presented several surprises.
Although dust storms can quickly cover the entire planet, strong winds raging on its surface are able to blow away the dust deposited on solar batteries. More recently, a surge of energy was observed on the Opportunity rover after another “cleaning” in March, after which there was an increase in power by 70 percent compared to the power level at the beginning of this year. At the moment, mission specialists have made a self-portrait of the rover. The dust content of the solar panels in this photo is not as strong as the scientists supposed. Opportunity has just experienced the sixth winter on Mars and, after the last “cleaning”, its solar panels may look cleaner than after the first winter.
His sister, the Mars rover Spirit, was not as stable as the Opportunity. However, it was not dust storms that killed the six-wheeled spacecraft. In 2010, NASA stopped trying to contact the Spirit after the rover was stuck in a sand trap in the Gusev crater. So Opportunity continues to make dizzying discoveries, standing on the edge of the crater Endeavor and revealing new secrets of the environment of Mars. And it seems Mars helps him with every new gust of wind.