Opportunity Updates

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Opportunity Takes Extensive Imagery to Decide Where to Go

sols 4935 - 4942, Dec. 11, 2017 - Dec. 18, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover is positioned upstream of a fork in the flow channels. The team is collecting imagery to decide which fork, the north fork or the south fork, to explore next. To support that decision, extensive imagery is being collected on almost every sol.

On Sol 4941 (Dec. 17, 2017), the robotic arm was used to collect a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic of a surface target within the work volume of the arm. The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) was then placed on that target.

With the upcoming holidays, the rover will remain in place for a while. This will allow multiple sols of APXS integration on this target. Late on Sol 4942 (Dec. 18, 2017), Opportunity collected a twilight panorama using the Panoramic Camera (Pancam) color stereo imager.

As of Sol 4942 (Dec. 18, 2017), the solar array energy production was 390 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.459 and a solar array dust factor of 0.622.

Total odometry is 28.01 miles (45.08 kilometers).

Opportunity Comes to a Fork in the Road

sols 4930 - 4934, Dec. 6, 2017 - Dec. 10, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover continued with several days of collecting color, stereo, Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panoramas of the surrounding terrain. Then, on Sol 4934 (Dec. 10, 2017), after a sol of recharging, Opportunity drove about 28 feet (8.4 meters), approximately east, down the valley to a modest energy lily pad. Beyond this point the channel features of the valley split into a left and right fork. The team will collect more imagery from this location to inform the decision as to which fork in the road the rover should take.

As of Sol 4934 (Dec. 10, 2017), the solar array energy production was 408 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.406 and a solar array dust factor of 0.620.

Total odometry is 28.01 miles (45.08 kilometers).

Opportunity Takes Panoramic Images This Week

sols 4924 - 4929, Nov. 29, 2017 - Dec. 5, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

The past week the rover spent conducting an extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) color stereo imaging campaign with large Pancam panoramas collected on almost every sols (day). The plan forward is to complete this imaging campaign before moving on to the next waypoint further down Perseverance Valley.

As of Sol 4929 (Dec. 5, 2017), the solar array energy production was 406 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.417 and a solar array dust factor of 0.624.

Total odometry is 28 miles (45.07 kilometers).

Opportunity Puts 28 Miles on the Odometer

sols 4916 - 4923, Nov. 21, 2017 - Nov. 28, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of Perseverance Valley on the west rim of the Noachian-aged Endeavour Crater.

Before moving to the next waypoint, the team commanded the rover on Sol 4916 (Nov. 21, 2017), to collect a Microscopic Image (MI) mosaic of a surface target, and then place the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) for a multi-sol integration. While the APXS was integrating, Opportunity continued to collect extensive color panoramas of the surrounding terrain. These image data are part of a complete digital model the rover is assembling of the entire Perseverance Valley.

With the in-situ (contact) science complete using the APXS, the rover drove on Sol 4922 (Nov. 27, 2017) about 46 feet (14 meters) to the next lily pad (energy favorable location) down the valley. Here Opportunity will continue the extensive image collection and take advantage of any surface targets under her feet.

As of Sol 4923 (Nov. 28, 2017), the solar array energy production was 390 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.416 and a solar array dust factor of 0.619.

Total odometry is 28.00 miles (45,067.60 kilometers).

Opportunity Greets Winter Solstice

sols 4910 - 4915, Nov. 15, 2017 - Nov. 20, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of Perseverance Valley on the west rim of the Noachian-aged Endeavour crater.

The winter solstice occurred on Sol 4915 (Nov. 20, 2017). Energy levels for the rover are improving, mostly due to improving dust factor (cleaning of dust off the solar arrays). The rover is continuing the survey of the surrounding landscape with extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) color panoramas in stereo and imagery in the direction of the next drive. The team is still analyzing where to drive next. Only one sol, Sol 4915 was a recharge sol.

As of Sol 4915 (Nov. 20, 2017), the solar array energy production was 401 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.404, and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.628.

Total odometry is 27.99 miles (45.05 kilometers).

Winds Blow Dust off the Solar Panels Improving Energy Levels

sols 4903 - 4909, Nov. 8, 2017 - Nov. 14, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of Perseverance Valley on the west rim of the Noachian-aged Endeavour Crater.

Although the depth of the winter solstice is still a week or more away, energy levels have improved for Opportunity. One contributor is the improvement in solar array dust factor as winds blow some of the dust off the arrays. That said, the rover did spend one sol, Sol 4906 (Nov. 11, 2017), as a recharge sol.

On Sol 4903 (Nov. 8, 2017), Opportunity continued a multi-sol integration of the surface target, called "Mesilla" using the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). The rover also continued to collect the extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panoramas as part of the comprehensive digital survey of the valley.

On Sol 4907 (Nov. 12, 2017), the rover drove 30 feet (9 meters) to the northeast set up for another surface target investigation and more imaging.

As of Sol 4909 (Nov. 14, 2017), the solar array energy production was 393 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.410 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.619.

Total odometry is 27.99 miles (45.05 kilometers).

Power Continues to be Challenging due to Winter

sols 4896 - 4902, Nov. 1, 2017 - Nov. 7, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of the Noachian-aged Endeavour Crater.

The rover is investigating a site where there is evidence of scouring, by wind or otherwise. We are in the midst of Winter Operations and power continues to be challenging, which resulted in a number of "recharge" sols (sols 4897, 4899 and 4901/Nov. 2, 4 and 6, 2017).

On Sol 4900 (Nov. 5, 2017), we were able to get a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic of and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) placement on the target "Masilla," though power did not allow for an integration in the same plan. We were also able to capture a few Panoramic Camera (Pancam) mosaics of the area to the north on sols 4896 and 4898 (Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, 2017), and drive direction imagery was planned for Sol 4902 (Nov. 7, 2017), but the plan was not sent due to technical difficulties at the Deep Space Network station. The rover went into "runout" instead, which is an activity light extension of the existing master sequence intended to keep the rover in a benign sequence controlled state in the event the next master does not get on board in a timely fashion. There were no drives during this period. Opportunity seems to have experience some dust cleaning since the last report.

As of Sol 4902 (Nov. 7, 2017), the solar array energy production was 377 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.445 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.624.

Total odometry is 27.99 miles (45.04 kilometers).

Opportunity Does a Wheelie and is Back on Solid Footing

sols 4889 - 4895, Oct. 25, 2017 - Oct. 31, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of the Noachian-aged Endeavour Crater.

The rover is investigating a site where there is evidence of scouring, by wind or otherwise. On Sol 4890 (Oct. 26, 2017), Opportunity bumped uphill about 13 feet (4 meters) to reach some targets of interest to the science team. Because of the steep terrain, the left rear wheel popped up as a wheelie. Before another further motion or robotic arm use on the rover, the wheelie will have to be relaxed.

An atmospheric argon measurement with the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) was also performed. Because energy is still a challenge during this deepest part of the winter, Sols 4892 and 4894 (Oct. 28 and Oct. 30, 2017), were recharge sols.

On Sol 4893 (Oct. 29, 2017), the rover performed a small motion to relax the right-rear wheel back onto solid footing. This allowed the rover to use the robotic arm on Sol 4895 (Oct. 31, 2017), to collect a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic of a surface target that was followed with the placement of the APXS on the same.

As of Sol 4895 (Oct. 31, 2017), the solar array energy production was 354 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.421 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.587.

Total odometry is 27.99 miles (45.04 kilometers).

Opportunity Meets Some Challenging Terrain

sols 4883 - 4888, Oct. 18, 2017 - Oct. 23, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover is exploring an interesting feature with evidence of wind scouring. To get a better look the rover attempted a few-meter uphill bump on Sol 4883 (Oct. 18, 2017). But a combination of the steep terrain and the surface characteristics resulted in excessive tilt, so the rover stopped after moving only 4.7 inches (12 centimeters).

On Sol 4885 (Oct. 20, 2017), Opportunity backed down the hill just over 10 feet (3 meters) to get out of the difficult terrain. Although energy production has improved, the change in rover tilt has offset some of the energy gains. Sol 4886 (Oct. 21, 2017), was an engineering-only (no imaging) sol and Sol 4887 (Oct. 22, 2017), was a recharge sol.

The rest of the time, Opportunity has been continuing to collect an extensive color stereo Pancam panorama of the feature called "La Bajada" along with images of the surface that show indications of wind erosion.

As of Sol 4888 (Oct. 23, 2017), the solar array energy production was 316 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.446 and a solar array dust factor of 0.527.

Total odometry is 27.99 miles (45.04 kilometers).

Opportunity Spends the Week Imaging

sols 4876 - 4882, Oct. 11, 2017 - Oct. 17, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

Although winter conditions are constraining activity, rover energy production has improved slightly, and more of the earlier relay passes from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are helping, as well. Opportunity has been able to avoid having to dedicate any sols to battery recharging.

The rover spent seven consecutive sols, Sols 4876 to 4882 (Oct. 11 to Oct. 17, 2017), collecting Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panoramas of the subject, called "La Bajada," totaling over 40 color stereo image pairs. Also, on Sol 4876 (Oct. 11, 2017), Opportunity was able to support an evening atmospheric argon measurement with the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS).

As of Sol 4882 (Oct. 17, 2017), the solar array energy production was 358 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.506 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.558.

Total odometry is 27.98 miles (45.04 kilometers).

Recent Drive Improves Energy Levels Slightly

sols 4869 - 4875, Oct. 4, 2017 - Oct. 10, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

The cold, low-light winter conditions continue to constrain activity, although with a recent drive, energy levels have improved slightly. Sol 4873 (Oct. 8, 2017), was a recharge sol and sol 4872 (Oct. 7, 2017), had little activity.

Opportunity drove on Sol 4874 (Oct. 9, 2017), about 59 feet (18 meters) back up slope to visit some interesting geology. The end-of-drive location provided favorable solar orientation, improving power production. When not driving or recharging, the rover is collecting extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) stereo panoramas of the surrounding geology.

As of Sol 4875 (Oct. 10, 2017), the solar array energy production was 339 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.563 and a solar array dust factor of 0.541.

Total odometry is 27.98 miles (45.04 kilometers).

Opportunity Feeling the Chemistry

sols 4862 - 4868, Sept. 27, 2017 - Oct. 3, 2017

Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Endeavour crater.

The cold, low-light winter conditions continue to limit activity. Sols 4866 and 4867 (October 1, 2017 and October 2, 2017) were recharge sols with little activity. Opportunity has been conducting surface chemistry surveys with Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). On Sol 4863, (September 28, 2017) the robotic arm placed the APXS on a new surface target. Integrations were conducted over several sols. Using the robotic arm on Sol 4868, (October 2, 2017) the Microscopic Imager (MI) collected a finder frame of the APXS target location of the surface. When not recharging, the rover has been continuing to collect extensive Pancam and Navcam stereo panoramas of the surrounding area.

As of Sol 4868, the solar array energy production was 284 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.544 and a solar array dust factor of 0.522.

Total odometry is 27.97 miles (45.02 kilometers).

Opportunity Continues to Survey 'Perseverance Valley' During Winter

sols 4849 - 4854, Sept. 13, 2017 - Sep. 19, 2017

Opportunity is continuing the winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

Winter continues to constrain activity. Sols 4849, 4852 and 4854 (Sept. 13, Sept. 16 and Sept. 19, 2017), were recharge sols with little to no science activity. However, the rover continues to make good progress is surveying the valley.

On Sol 4850 (Sept. 14, 2017), Opportunity collected a 10x1-frame Panoramic Camera (Pancam) stereo panorama. This was continued on Sol 4854 (Sept. 19, 2017), with a 14x1-frame Pancam stereo panorama, filling out the data set for a complete digital elevation model at this location in the valley. The robotic arm was used on Sol 4851 (Sept. 15, 2017), to set up for an early morning test of the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the morning of Sol 4854 (Sept. 19, 2017). A Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic was collected prior to the APXS placement. The test of the APXS showed that good quality data can be collected in the winter early morning (versus the normal late night).

As of Sol 4854 (Sept. 19, 2017), the solar array energy production was 283 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.524 and a solar array dust factor of 0.507.

Total odometry is 27.97 miles (45.02 kilometers).

Exploring 'Perseverance Valley' During Winter

sols 4842 - 4848, Sept. 6, 2017 - Sep. 12, 2017

Opportunity is continuing the winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

Winter is constraining the available energy, so the project has to rover hop (drive) from one energy-favorable "lily pad" to the next. (These lily pads are locations where the terrain is tilted sufficiently to the north to maximize the Sun's illumination on the rover's solar panels.)

At these lily pad locations, Opportunity has been conducting an extensive stereo survey of the morphology (form and shape) of Perseverance Valley. These data will be combined from throughout the valley to generate a complete digital elevation model that scientists will use to address questions about the valley's formation and origin. But even with the favorable lily pads, the rover still has to spend some days recharging where the rover only wakes briefly for communication and sleeps the rest of the day.

For the past period, Sol 4845 (Sept. 9, 2017), was a recharge sol while the rest focused on completing a Panoramic Camera (Pancam) mosaic of the terrain to the east. We also did a robotic arm (IDD) salute on Sol 4847 (Sept. 11, 2017), in preparation for an attempt at an Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) integration on a ground target.

As of Sol 4848 (Sept. 12, 2017), the solar array energy production was 281 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.548 and a solar array dust factor of 0.506.

Total odometry is 27.97 miles (45.02 kilometers).

45 Kilometers on the Odometry for Opportunity!

sols 4835 - 4841, Aug. 30, 2017 - Sep. 5, 2017

Opportunity is continuing the winter exploration of "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

Winter is constraining the available energy, so the project has the rover doing "hops" (drives) from one energy-favorable "lily pad" to the next. (These lily pads are locations where the terrain is tilted sufficiently to the north to maximize the Sun illumination on the rover's solar panels.)

At these lily pad locations, Opportunity has been conducting an extensive stereo survey of the morphology (form and shape) of "Perseverance Valley." These data will be combined from throughout the valley to generate a complete digital elevation model that scientists will use to address questions about the valley's formation and origin. But even with the favorable lily pads, the rover still has to spend some days recharging where to rover only wakes briefly for communication and sleeps the rest of the day.

For the past period, the rover has remained in place collecting extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) and Navigation Camera (Navcam) imagery when power permits. Sols 4835, 4837, 4838 and 4839 (Aug. 30, Sept. 1, Sept. 2 and Sept. 3, 2017), were recharge sols.

As of Sol 4841 (Sept. 5, 2017), the solar array energy production was 285 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.533 and a solar array dust factor of 0.507.

Total odometry is 27.97 miles (45.02 kilometers).

Opportunity Seeks Energy-Favorable Locations to Recharge its Solar Panels During Winter

sols 4828 - 4834, Aug. 23, 2017 - Aug. 29, 2017

Opportunity is exploring "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour crater.

Winter has constrained the energy levels on the rover, so the project has been exercising the strategy of driving the rover from one energy-favorable "lily pad" to the next. These lily pads are locations where the terrain is tilted sufficiently to the north to maximize the Sun illumination on the rover's solar panels. Even this is not enough and the rover has to spend some days recharging. During these "recharge" sols the rover sleeps throughout the day waking only for the morning Deep Space Network X-band session and the afternoon Ultra High Frequency relay pass.

Opportunity drove on Sol 4831 (Aug. 26, 2017), heading for an energy lily pad. While driving, the rover collected some mid-drive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) and Navigation Camera (Navcam) imaging. At the end of the drive, after traveling just over 82 feet (25 meters), the rover collected some more imagery. Unfortunately, due to side slip, the rover missed the lily pad by a few meters. After a couple of days of recharging, Opportunity drove a short distance of just over 13 feet (4 meters) to get onto that lily pad.

The plan ahead is to collect more imagery from this location of the morphology (the shape) of Perseverance Valley, recharge some, and move on to the next lily pad.

As of Sol 4834 (Aug. 29, 2017), the solar array energy production was 279 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.608 and a solar array dust factor of 0.507.

Total odometry is 27.97 miles (45.02 kilometers).

Opportunity Staying Put for a Bit to Image Valley

sols 4822 - 4827, Aug. 17, 2017 - Aug. 22, 2017

Opportunity is located in "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover has been staying in place collecting extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) stereo panoramas. Now that we are in the valley, the objective is to extensively document the local morphology (how things look) at each location so that a 3D digital elevation model of the entire valley can be constructed. Opportunity is well underway in that objective at this fist station within the valley.

Winter is being felt by the rover as power levels continued to be constrained. Sol 4826 (Aug. 21, 2017), had to be a recharge sol with no science activities to build battery charge for the next plans activities. This will be a regular occurrence through the rest of the winter.

As of Sol 4827 (Aug. 22, 2017), the solar array energy production was 307 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.683 and a solar array dust factor of 0.518.

Total odometry is 27.96 miles (44.99 kilometers).

Driving Down the Valley and Recharging Batteries

sols 4815 - 4821, Aug. 9, 2017 - Aug. 16, 2017

Opportunity continued driving down "Perseverance Valley."

As rover energy levels dropped, drive strategy is to traverse down the valley then stop at Sun-facing or northerly tilt terrains.

Sol 4815 (Aug. 9, 2017), was a recharge sol with no planned activity other than short wake-ups for communication. On Sol 4816 (Aug. 11, 2017), Opportunity drove 10.5 meters to a favorable northerly tilt location, then did a Quick Fine Attitude (QFA) and collected Navigation Camera (Navcam) images to characterize the local morphology for science. The wheel currents after this drive were within nominal ranges. The next couple sols, the rover continued to collect Panoramic Camera (Pancam) and additional Navcam images to complete science characterization. Sol 4819 (Aug. 14, 2017), was used as another recharge sol, a needed rest before the rover geared up with more imaging activities. On Sol 4820 (Aug. 15, 2017), Pancam and Navcam images were collected to scout the next drive path, with atmospheric tau observations taken on the following sol.

As of Sol 4821 (Aug. 16, 2017), the solar array energy production was 316 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.593 and a solar array dust factor of 0.511.

Total odometry is 27.95 miles (44.99 kilometers).

Taking Panoramas and Encountering Some Rocky Terrain

sols 4808-4814, August 2, 2017 - August 8, 2017

Opportunity is located in Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Endeavour crater and has resumed normal science activities post-conjunction.

Taking advantage of the position through conjunction, on Sol 4809 (August 3, 2017) the rover began two sols of robotic arm activity collecting a set of Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaics of the target called "Parral" and then a set of Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) offset placements on the same. Additionally, the rover collected more Navcam and Pancam panoramas at this same location, filling in some of the science lost due to the reset during solar conjunction.

Since winter is now approaching, energy levels are dropping. Sol 4812 (August 6, 2017) was used as a recharge sol for the rover with no activity other than short wake ups for communication. On Sol 4813 (August 7, 2017), Opportunity drove for the first time since conjunction, however the drive stopped short after 11 feet (3.5 meters) when the rover encountered some difficult terrain while turning. The next sol was used to bump the rover about 4 feet (1.2 meters) to get it away from the challenging rocky outcrop.

As of Sol 4814 (August 8, 2017), the solar array energy production was 319 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.723 and a solar array dust factor of 0.531.

Total odometry is 27.95 miles (44.97 kilometers).

Opportunity Enters Automode During Solar Conjunction Pause in Commanding

sols 4793 - 4799, July 18, 2017 - July 24, 2017

Opportunity is in Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Endeavour Crater and the mission is now in its solar conjunction communications blackout period. The position of Mars as viewed from Earth will remain very close to the sun until early August. In this geometry, the solar corona degrades radio communications between the two planets and restricts spacecraft communication.

In advance of solar conjunction, we prepared two weeks of command sequences and stored them on Opportunity to keep the rover busy during the communication blackout. Although we are now in a moratorium on sending commands, we did receive a tiny amount of relayed Opportunity data on Sol 4797. Those limited data indicated that Opportunity is in automode, a state where no master sequence is running and the rover keeps itself safe while waiting further communication from ground control. We suspect that a warm reset of the rover's computer occurred during the Sol 4795 morning X-band communication session, halting the stored master sequence of commands.

The vehicle is power positive, thermally stable and will continue to honor the scheduled X-band and UHF relay communication passes through the remainder of solar conjunction. As the rover is expected to remain safe and solar corona effects will all but prevent any confident commanding until after conjunction, the project's position is to let the rover remain in automode for the remainder of conjunction. Full investigation of the cause will have to wait until we can resume commanding of the rover.

As of Sol 4793 (July 18, 2017), the solar array energy production was 332 watt-hours, with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.774 and a solar array dust factor of 0.534.

Total odometry remains at 27.95 miles (44.97 kilometers).

Opportunity Will Continue Exploration of Perseverance Valley

sols 4800 - 4807, July 25, 2017 - August 1, 2017

Opportunity, located in Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Endeavour crater, has emerged from solar conjunction.

At the start of conjunction, the rover experienced a warm reset on Sol 4795 (July 20, 2017) which stopped all sequencing and put the rover in a safe state called automode. Recovery action had to wait until the solar conjunction communication blackout period was over.

One sol before the official conclusion of conjunction on Sol 4807 (August 1, 2017), the project sent real-time commands to the rover to restore master sequence control and nominal operations. Those commands were successful and Opportunity is ready to resume normal, post-conjunction planning operations. The cause of the reset back on Sol 4795 (July 20, 2017) is unknown and still under investigation. The rover is otherwise in good health and ready to continue the exploration of Perseverance Valley.

As of Sol 4807 (August 1, 2017), the solar array energy production was 314 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.774 (as of Sol 4793, July 18, 2017) and a solar array dust factor of 0.530.

Total odometry remains at 27.95 miles (44.97 kilometers).

Opportunity Remains at Current Location Due to Solar Conjunction

sols 4787 to 4792, July 12, 2017 - July 17, 2017

Opportunity entered Perseverance Valley on the west rim of Endeavour crater. The rover is positioned within the valley where she will spend the solar conjunction period.

Solar conjunction is when the Sun comes between Earth and Mars, which occurs about once every 26 months. During this time, there will be diminished communications to Opportunity. More on solar conjunction here: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/nightsky/solar-conjunction/

Two weeks of commanding have been uploaded to the rover to keep her active during solar conjunction with short communications with the Mars orbiters during the period.

Before the start of solar conjunction, on Sol 4787 (July 12, 2017), the robotic arm was used for some in-situ (contact) science. A Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic was collected of the targets referred to as "PV_Entrance", followed by the placement of the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the same for a multi-hour integration. On Sol 4790 (July 15, 2017), the APXS was offset to a new, adjacent target for another integration. On Sols 4791 and 4792 (July 16, 2017 and July 17, 2017) Opportunity began the collection of the multi-frame color panorama of the feature called "Tierra Adentro".

As of Sol 4792 (July 17, 2017) the solar array energy production was 344 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.706 and a solar array dust factor of 0.534.

Total odometry is 27.95 miles (44.97 kilometers).

Opportunity Will Spend Three Weeks at Current Location Due to Solar Conjunction

sols 4774 - 4786, June 29, 2017 - July 11, 2017

Opportunity is in "Perseverance Valley" on the west rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover has arrived at the location within the valley where she will spend the approximately three-week solar conjunction period.

Solar conjunction is when the Sun comes between Earth and Mars, which occurs about once every 26 months. During this time, there will be diminished communications to Opportunity. More on solar conjunction here: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/nightsky/solar-conjunction/

After some final steering diagnostic testing, Opportunity drove on Sol 4774 (June 29, 2017), about 39 feet (12 meters) to the north. Over the next few sols, the rover was engaged in a Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panorama survey of the surroundings. On Sol 4779 (July 3, 2017), Opportunity made almost 101 feet (31 meters) to the northeast, heading towards the location with favorable energy tilt for the conjunction period. The rover drove again on Sols 4781 and 4782 (July 6 and July 7, 2017) towards the east, achieving 44 feet (13.4 meters) and 45 feet (13.8 meters), respectively.

The rover dedicated Sol 4783 (July 8, 2017), for recharging to prepare for the next sol. Then on Sol 4784 (July 9, 2017), Opportunity awoke late in the evening to use a MAVEN relay pass. With the late wake-up, the rover used the time to images the stars and to collect an atmospheric argon measurement with the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS).

As of Sol 4786 (July 11, 2017), the solar array energy production was 352 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.748 and a solar array dust factor of 0.549.

Total odometry is 27.95 miles (44.97 kilometers).

Opportunity Continuing Science Campaign at 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4767 - 4773, June 21, 2017 - June 27, 2017

Opportunity is at the top of "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover is completing the remaining science as part of a walkabout campaign above Perseverance Valley before the solar conjunction moratorium in July.

Although there are new considerations regarding steering (no use of the front steering actuators), Opportunity is continuing to drive. Solar conjunction is when the Sun comes between Earth and Mars, which occurs about once every 26 months. During this time, there will be diminished communications to Opportunity. More on solar conjunction here: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/allaboutmars/nightsky/solar-conjunction/

On Sol 4767 (June 21, 2017), the rover headed southwest at just over 46 feet (14 meters). And as is typical, Navigation Camera (Navcam) and Panoramic Camera (Pancam) were collected at the end of the drive. On Sol 4769 (June 23, 2017), Opportunity drove again towards the northeast just over 33 feet (10 meters). These drives have been employing "tank steering" that does not require the use of the steering actuators, instead differentially runs the wheels on either side of the rover. On Sol 4772 (June 26, 2017), Opportunity drove just about 26 feet (8 meters), but this time used the rear steering actuators to perform a gentle arc and finished the drive with a turn-in-place that toes-in both rear wheels. On Sol 4773 (June 27, 2017), the test of the right-front steering actuator was tried, after more than 12 years of inactivity. No motion was observed, although another test is planned.

As of Sol 4773 (June 27, 2017), the solar array energy production was 336 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.771 and a solar array dust factor of 0.535.

Total odometry is 27.90 miles (44.90 kilometers).

Opportunity Straightens Wheel, Resumes Driving

sols 4760 - 4766, June 14, 2017 - June 20, 2017

Opportunity is at the top of Perseverance Valley on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover experienced a left-front wheel steering actuator stall on Sol 4750 (June 4, 2017), leaving the wheel toed out by 33 degrees. Our initial attempts to straighten the wheel failed to yield any results and were suggestive of a mechanical cause for the stalls (in the steering actuator). Fortunately, however a repeat of the diagnostics on Sol 4763 (June 17, 2017), added a twist that may have made a difference. In addition to attempting to actuate the steering at different voltages in a straightening (toe-in) direction, the team also commanded very small (half degree) actuations in the toe-out direction in between the straightening attempts. While these also stalled, the very last straightening attempt appeared to break free from whatever was impeding it and steered the wheel to straight.

This very good result was tempered by the fact that we still do not know for certain what the cause of the stalls was and whether the problem could reoccur.
Therefore, Opportunity will be exercising a precautionary partial moratorium on usage of the steering actuators for the foreseeable future. Specifically, this directs no front usage of steering actuators and only rear usage as circumstances might demand. Instead, tank turning and steering will be used wherever possible. The first nominal drive under these new restrictions was executed on Sol 4766 (June 20, 2017). While the drive ended early, this was due to a visual odometry failure unrelated to steering and was still successful in traversing about 46 feet (14 meters) out of a goal of 18.

As of Sol 4766 (June 20, 2017), the solar array energy production was 364 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.699 and a solar array dust factor of 0.540.

Total odometry is 27.88 miles (44.86 kilometers).

Collecting Panoramas of High-Value Targets

sols 4753 to 4759, June 7, 2017 - June 13, 2017

Opportunity is at the top of Perseverance Valley on the rim of Endeavour crater.

The rover experienced a left-front wheel steering actuator stall on Sol 4750 (June 4, 2017) leaving the wheel 'toed-out' by 33 degrees. On Sol 4752 (June 6, 2017), the rover backed up with an arc to allow investigation of a terrain-related stall. On Sol 4754 (June 8, 2017), the left-front wheel was commanded to steer inward to straight at four different voltages along with other diagnostics.

The wheel failed to steer (zero change in encoder counts) at any of those voltages. To verify the steering diagnostic, a similar steering test was run on the left-rear wheel (known to be good) on Sol 4756 (June 10, 2017). That test of the left-rear wheel performed nominally with the wheel steering as expected, verifying our test procedure. The project is continuing the investigation of the left-front steering actuator stall. Further diagnostics are being developed along with ground testing plans.

While Opportunity's mobility status is under evaluation, the rover continues to collect an extensive Pancam panorama called the "Sprained Ankle Panorama" of the surrounding area along with targeted 13-filter Pancam images of high-value targets.

Also, an atmospheric argon measurement using the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) was performed on the evening of Sol 4757 (June 11, 2017).

As of Sol 4759 (June 13, 2017), the solar array energy production was 343 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.842 and a solar array dust factor of 0.529.

Total odometry is 27.87 miles (44.86 kilometers).

Walkabout Above 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4746 to 4752, May 31, 2016 - June 6, 2017

Opportunity is at the top of "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater. The plan before proceeding down the valley is to perform a walk-about survey above the valley.

To start the walkabout, on Sol 4746 (May 31, 2017) Opportunity drove about 82 feet (24.9 meters) mostly south toward a chosen waypoint. Images for extensive panoramas were collected with the Navigation Camera (Navcam) and the Panoramic Camera (Pancam). On Sol 4748 (June 2, 2017), the rover took advantage of an opportunity to address some long-standing liens by imaging the grind bit of the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) and by collecting some Microscopic Imager (MI) sky flats, both of which require extensive robotic arm movement. On Sol 4750 (June 4, 2017), the plan was to perform a short, tight backward arc, but the left-front steering actuator stalled. With the left-front wheel steered to more than 30 degrees from straight, the focus of the team is first to assess whether this stall was a terrain related phenomenon. So, on Sol 4752 (June 6, 2017), the rover arced back without steering the left-front wheel and imaged the location of the steering stall. Although there is evidence to suggest a terrain effect, it is not conclusive. The next step will be a careful attempt to straighten the left-front wheel. The plan on Sol 4754 (June 8, 2017) is to gently turn the wheel straight.

As of Sol 4752 (June 6, 2017), the solar array energy production is 362 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.788 and a solar array dust factor of 0.530.

Total odometry as of Sol 4752 is 27.87 miles (44.86 kilometers).

Surveying the Spillway

sols 4739 to 4745, May 23, 2017 - May 30, 2017

Opportunity is at the top of Perseverance Valley on the rim of Endeavour crater. The plan before proceeding down the valley is to survey the valley from the top and to perform a walk-about survey above the spillway. The entirety of this most recent period was spent doing extensive imagery in support of the survey of the spillway.

In particular, pancam mosaics from the second station of the long baseline stereo campaign were taken on Sols 4739, 4740, 4741 and 4742 (May 23, 24, 25, 26, 2017). Imagery is now complete at this location, and the rover is expected to move away toward the next location (station three) on Sol 4746 (May 31, 2017).

As of Sol 4745, the solar array energy production was 376 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.834 and a solar array dust factor of 0.543.

Total odometry as of Sol 4745 (May 30, 2017): 27.86 miles (44.8 kilometers).

Preparations Continue Before Driving into 'Perseverance Valley'

Sols 4733 to 4738, May 17, 2017 - May 22, 2017

Opportunity is at the top of Perseverance Valley on the rim of Endeavour crater.

The plan before proceeding down the valley is to survey the valley from the top and to perform a walk-about survey above the spillway.

On Sol 4733 (May 17, 2017), the robotic arm was used to point the Microscopic Imager (MI) up at the sky for some long overdue sky flat calibration images, and in support of the valley surveying objectives a large Navcam panorama was collected. On Sol 4734 (May 18, 2017) the rover performed a 3-point "dogleg" drive of nearly 180 feet (55 meters) to set up for more survey imaging. Opportunity moved again on the next sol about 34 feet (10.5 meters) to position for an even better imaging position. In this location the rover spent the next four sols surveying the region atop the spillway and the valley below with both Pancam and Navcam panoramas. On Sol 4735 (May 19, 2017), an atmospheric argon measurement with the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) was also fit into the rover activities.

As of Sol 4738 (May 22, 2017), the solar array energy production was 376 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.826 and a solar array dust factor of 0.536.

Total odometry as of Sol 4738: 27.86 miles (44.8 kilometers).

Opportunity Takes in the View from the Top of 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4726 - 4732, May 10, 2017 - May 16, 2017

Opportunity is at the top of "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

The current plan is to survey the valley below in order to generate a digital elevation map for route planning down the valley.

On Sols 4726 to 4729 (May 10 and May 13, 2017), the rover conducted an extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) survey, collecting more than two dozen multi-color frames. Then, on Sol 4730 (May 14, 2017), Opportunity drove north with a 74-feet (22.7-meter) dogleg to reach a promontory that overlooks the valley below. From this location, the rover is collecting one "eye" of a long-baseline stereo survey.

On Sols 4731 and 4732 (May 15 and May 16, 2017), Pancam long-baseline stereo imaging was collected. After this long-baseline imaging campaign is complete, Opportunity will commence a walk-about of the region around the top of the valley spillway.

As of Sol 4732 (May 16, 2017), the solar array energy production was 384 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.870 and a solar array dust factor of 0.547.

Total odometry is 27.82 miles (44.77 kilometers).

Opportunity Reaches 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4719 - 4725, May 3, 2017 - May 9, 2017

Opportunity has arrived at the top of "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

The next step on Sol 4720 (May 4, 2017), was a short approach of 39 feet (12 meters) to the northern end of the "spillway" that overtops into Perseverance. From this vantage point, the rover has been engaged in multiple-sol collection of extensive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panoramas all around the rover. This is to document the spillway notch, as well as, the morphology of the channel that enters into the spillway, along with more distant features.

Early on the morning of Sol 4721 (May 5, 2017), Opportunity was able to capture with the Pancam camera a transit of the Martian moon, Phobos across the sun.

As of Sol 4725 (May 9, 2017), the solar array energy production was 391 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.893 and a solar array dust factor of 0.554.

Total odometry is 27.80 miles (44.74 kilometers).

Approaching 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4712 - 4718, April 26, 2017 - May 2, 2017

Opportunity is approaching "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

On the way to Perseverance, the rover collected targeted Panoramic Camera (Pancam) images and panoramas of several fresh (young) craters nearby. On Sol 4716 (April 30, 2017), Opportunity began the approach to Perseverance with a 131-feet (40-meter) drive to the southeast, followed by drive direction imagery. On Sol 4718 (May 2, 2017), the rover drove again just over 105 feet (32 meters), again with more documentary Pancam and Navigation Camera (Navcam) imagery.

The rover will now begin a campaign of wide-baseline stereo imaging down the valley to support the development of a detailed digital elevation model of the valley for route planning. On the morning of Sol 4719 (May 3, 2017), an image of the transit of Phobos will be attempted.

As of Sol 4718 (May 2, 2017), the solar array energy production was 405 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.883 and a solar array dust factor of 0.566.

Total odometry is 27.80 miles (44.73 kilometers).

Several Drives This Week Put Opportunity Closer to 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4706 - 4711, April 19, 2017 - April 25, 2017

Opportunity is continuing the drive south to "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater, and is now only about 262 feet (80 meters) away.

On Sol 4706 (April 19, 2017), she drove about 66 feet (20 meters). On 4708 (April 22, 2017), she drove another 207 feet (63 meters), and on Sol 4710 (April 24, 2017), a further 118 feet (36 meters) ending just to the east of a small crater named "Orion." The terrain has been generally benign and distances have been primarily limited by visibility. In addition, the rover has been operating well and power conditions have been favorable to the extensive driving.

As of Sol 4711 (April 25, 2017), the solar array energy production was 412 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.990 and a solar array dust factor of 0.580.

Total odometry is 27.75 miles (44.66 kilometers).

Opportunity Stops to Study a Patch of Exposed Rock Outcrop

sols 4699 - 4704, April 12, 2017 - April 17, 2017

Opportunity is continuing the drive south to "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater, but with a brief stop along the way. The rover is on top of perhaps the last patch of exposed outcrop before arriving at the gully, so the science team wants to take one last contact measurement.

On Sol 4699 (April 12, 2017), the rover bumped into place to reach a clear outcrop target. On Sol 4700 (April 13, 2017), Opportunity used the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) brush on the end of the robotic arm to clear away the target's surface. Then a set of Microscopic Imager (MI) images were collected, followed by the placement of the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the same. A small shift in the rover attitude was observed when the RAT was pre-loaded on the surface. To make sure the rover was not shifting during instrument surface contact a pre-load test was performed on Sol 4702 (April 15, 2017). The rover was found to be stable. On Sol 4704 (April 17, 2017), the surface target was ground with the RAT and again a MI mosaic was collected and the APXS was placed.

With the surface work now complete, Opportunity drove 433 feet (132 meters) on Sol 4705 (April 18, 2017). It has been some time since the rover drove over 100 meters in a single sol.

As of Sol 4705 (April 18, 2017), the solar array energy production was 408 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.957 and a solar array dust factor of 0.584.

Total odometry is 27.68 miles (44.54 kilometers).

Opportunity Nears 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4692 - 4698, April 05, 2017 - April 11, 2017

Opportunity is continuing the drive south to 'Perseverance Valley' on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover drove on Sols 4693 and 4695 (April 6 and April 8, 2017), covering 46 feet (14.11 meters) and 138 feet (41.94 meters), respectively and is now within 0.2 miles (350 meters) of the valley. Targeted Panoramic Camera (Pancam) images were taken before each drive with Navigation Camera (Navcam) and Pancam panoramas collected after the drives. Color clast surveys of the ground were performed on Sols 4692, 4694 and 4696 (April 5, April 7 and April 9, 2017). On Sol 4697 (April 10, 2017), the robotic arm was used to collect a Microscopic Imager (MI) of an exposed outcrop target. The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) was placed on the same target for a multi-hour integration.

As of Sol 4698 (April 11, 2017), the solar array energy production was 414 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.996 and a solar array dust factor of 0.596.

Total odometry is 27.59 miles (44.41 kilometers).

Several Drives and Imaging This Week on the Way to 'Perseverance Valley'

sols 4685 - 4691, March 29, 2017 - April 4, 2017

Opportunity is heading south to "Perseverance Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover drove on Sols 4686, 4688 and 4691 (March 30, April 1 and April 4, 2017), covering 127 feet (38.79 meters), 44 feet (13.36 meters) and 91 feet (27.82 meters), respectively. Both Navigation Camera (Navcam) and Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panoramas were collected after each drive. There was also a relay pass with MAVEN on Sol 4688 (April 1, 2017), although there are some questions about the completeness data returned. Additional targeted imagery was collected of the distant bright featured, called "Winnemucca" on Sol 4691 (April 4, 2017).

As of Sol 4691 (April 4, 2017), the solar array energy production was 415 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.981 and a solar array dust factor of 0.597.

Total odometry is 27.56 miles (44.35 kilometers).

The Dust Storm West of Opportunity is Starting to Abate

sols 4672 - 4677, March 16, 2017 - March 21, 2017

Opportunity is just outside the rim of Endeavour Crater, heading to the gully, named 'Perseverance Valley.'

The large regional dust storm to the west of the rover's site has started to abate, although there is still a lot of dust in the atmosphere and rover energy levels are affected.

On Sol 4672 (March 16, 2017), Opportunity drove over 141 feet (43 meters) to the south. Owning to the elevated atmospheric dust, the next sol had to be a recharge sol for the rover to restore charge in the batteries. The tight energy constraints persisted through the 3-sol weekend plan for the rover with only the first sol active with remote sensing and the last two sols used for recharging the batteries. Subsequently, a subtlety in the ground tool power modeling shed some light on the restricted power levels. The ground tool was not properly accounting for the rover's quiet time instead thinking the rover was active and consuming more energy than it really was. This has now been corrected in the tool.

On Sol 4677 (March 21, 2017), Opportunity drove again to the south covering over 62 feet (19 meters) with the usual post-drive Panoramic Camera (Pancam) and Navigation Camera (Navcam) panoramas. The plan ahead is more driving and remote sensing as Opportunity heads towards 'Perseverance Valley.'

As of Sol 4677 (March 21, 2017), the solar array energy production was 423 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 1.181 and a solar array dust factor of 0.615.

Total odometry is 27.48 miles (44.23 kilometers).

Heading to South to 'Perseverance Valley' Gully

sols 4664 - 4671, March 07, 2017 - March 15, 2017

Opportunity is located just outside the rim of Endeavour Crater, heading to the next big science objective, a gully named 'Perseverance Valley.'

Meanwhile a large regional dust storm to the west of the rover's site has been kicking up a lot of dust into the atmosphere. On Sol 4665 (March 8, 2017), Opportunity drove southeast about 69 feet (21 meters). The drive was followed with the usual Panoramic Camera (Pancam) and Navigation Camera (Navcam) panoramas to document the site and plan for the next drive. The rover had hoped to drive over the weekend. But a combination of late data and elevated atmospheric opacity (dusty skies) limited the weekend's activity.

Opportunity drove again on Sol 4670 (March 13, 2017), with just under 118 feet (36 meters) to the south. The plan ahead is more driving to make progress towards 'Perseverance Valley.'

As of Sol 4671 (March 15, 2017), the solar array energy production was 366 watt-hours with an elevated atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 1.692 and a solar array dust factor of 0.653.

Total odometry is 27.44 miles (44.16 kilometers).

Driving South to Gully

sols 4657 - 4663, February 28, 2017 - March 06, 2017

Opportunity is located just outside the rim of Endeavour Crater, less than half a mile (700 meters) away from the next big science objective, a gully.

The rover completed the last in-situ science measurements inside Endeavour Crater on Sol 4657 (Feb. 28, 2017). Because of constrained data volume, Sol 4658 (March 1, 2017), was a dedicated 'atmospheres' day, a sol of just low-data volume atmospheric observations.

On Sol 4659 (March 2, 2017), Opportunity drove 42 feet (12.9 meters) to the west, exiting Endeavour Crater. The plan is to drive south quickly out on the plains toward the gully and then re-enter the rim. On Sol 4660 (March 3, 2017), the rover covered over 98 feet (30 meters) in the first drive south. An atmospheric measurement of argon was performed on the next sol using the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). On Sol 4663 (March 6, 2017), Opportunity covered another 94 feet (28.7 meters) to the south. As with each drive extensive Navigation Camera (Navcam) and Panoramic Camera (Pancam) imagery is collected. Atmospheric opacity is still elevated due to the recent regional dust storms.

As of Sol 4663 (March 6, 2017), the solar array energy production was 441 watt-hours with an elevated atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 1.660 and a solar array dust factor of 0.770.

Total odometry is 27.41 miles (44.11 kilometers).

Getting Closer to Gully

sols 4651 - 4656, February 22, 2017 - February 27, 2017

Opportunity is located on the rim of Endeavour Crater, less than half a mile (700 meters) away from the next big science objective, a gully.

Before then, the science team is completing investigations by the rover at a location near the outside edge of the crater. Extensive grooves and scour marks are provoking varied hypotheses. In addition, the rover has been collecting an impressive color panorama of the current location, named "Rocheport."

On almost every sol, the Panoramic Camera (Pancam) has been collecting multi-filter image panoramas. On Sol 4652 (Feb. 23, 2017), the robotic arm was used to collect more Microscopic Imager (MI) images of the surface target named "Boonville." A multi-hour Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) measurement on an offset placement was also made. On Sol 4654 (Feb. 25, 2017), the rover bumped only 4 feet (1.3 meters) to set up for another surface target, called "Waverly." And on Sol 4656 (Feb. 27, 2017), more MI images were taken along with the placement of the APXS on the new target.

Over the past few sols a large regional dust storm a few hundred kilometers to the west of the rover has been elevating the atmospheric opacity over the rover site. Although this storm has kicked up a lot of dust into the atmosphere, the turbulence has produced some dust cleaning on the rover's solar panels. The rover team along with our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter colleagues continue to monitor the progress of this storm.

As of Sol 4656 (Feb. 27, 2017), the solar array energy production was 458 watt-hours with an elevated atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 1.466 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.841.

Total odometry is 27.36 miles (44.03 kilometers).

Leaving Crater Rim for the Plains of Meridiani

sols 4637 - 4643, February 8, 2017 - February 14, 2017

Opportunity is located on the rim of Endeavour crater, about to leave the rim and get back on the plains of Meridiani.

The rover is not leaving the crater, just setting up for faster progress south along the rim toward the next major scientific objective, the gully now less than a kilometer away.

Opportunity completed the last in-situ (contact) measurements on Sol 4638 (Feb. 9, 2017). The rover collected a Microscopic Image (MI) mosaic of the surface outcrop and then placed the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the same for a multi-hour integration. On Sol 4640 (Feb. 11, 2017), Opportunity drove about 92 feet (28 meters) to the southwest, just at the edge of the plains of Meridiani. The geologic formations at the rims edge exhibit extensive scours and grooves. So, the science team is collecting extensive Navigation Camera (Navcam) and color Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panoramas at this location. The rover also benefited from a cleaning event of dust off the solar arrays sometime around Sol 4637 (Feb. 8, 2017).

As of Sol 4643 (Feb. 14, 2017), the solar array energy production was an improved 484 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.816 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.716.

Total odometry is 27.36 miles (44.03 kilometers).

Opportunity Clicks Over 44 Kilometers on the Odometer!

sols 4631 - 4636, February 01, 2017 - February 07, 2017

Opportunity is located on the rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover is making progress towards the next major scientific objective, the gully less than a kilometer south of the current location.

The rover has been driving on most planning sols. On Sol 4631 (Feb. 1, 2017), Opportunity traveled just under 85 feet (26 meters) to the southwest. The drive was followed with the collection of both Panoramic Camera (Pancam) and Navigation Camera (Navcam) panoramas. On Sol 4633 (Feb. 3, 2017), the rover drove again to the southwest just over 72 feet (22 meters) with more post-drive Pancam and Navcam panoramas. On Sol 4636 (Feb. 7, 2017), the rover added another 42 feet (13 meters) of distance. With this drive Opportunity exceeded 44 kilometers (27.34 miles) of odometry since landing, not bad for a 1 kilometer requirement.

As of Sol 4636 (Feb. 7, 2017), the solar array energy production was approximately 414 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.822 and a solar array dust factor of 0.646.

Total odometry is 27.34 miles (44.00 kilometers).

Opportunity Takes Advantage of her Location to do a Mini Science Campaign

sols 4624 - 4630, January 25, 2017 - January 31, 2017

Opportunity is located on the rim of Endeavour Crater, heading south.

The rover is trying to make progress towards the next major scientific objective, the gully about a kilometer south of the current location. The rover recently turned from heading west to heading south around the north edge of "Beacon Rock." On Sol 4624 (Jan. 25, 2017), Opportunity drove 76 feet (23.25 meters), the last westward move before turning south. Over the next two sols, the rover drove both days covering 62 feet (18.91 meters) and 38.45 feet (11.72 meters), respectively.

Taking advantage of her location, Opportunity conducted a short in-situ (contact) science campaign on Sol 4629 (Jan. 30, 2017), using the robotic arm to collect a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic of a surface target and placing the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the same for a multi-hour integration. She also fit in an atmospheric argon measurement with the APXS on an earlier sol.

On Sol 4630 (Jan. 31, 2017), it was another push to the south with a 71.49 feet (21.79 meter) drive. This last drive stopped a little short because the visual odometry algorithm had difficulty resolving progress from near-featureless images of the ground. Lots of Navigation Camera (Navcam) and Panoramic Camera (Pancam) panoramas have been collected after each drive.

As of Sol 4630 (Jan. 31, 2017), the solar array energy production was 466 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.801 and a solar array dust factor of 0.681.

Total odometry is 27.30 miles (43.94 kilometers).

Opportunity Celebrates 13 Years of Operations on Mars

sols 4617 - 4623, January 18, 2017 - January 24, 2017

Opportunity celebrated her 13th birthday on Sol 4623 (January 24, 2017 PST). She spent it as she has most recent sols -- heading south along the rim of Endeavour Crater.

The rover is currently trying to make rapid progress toward the next major scientific objective, the gully about a kilometer south of the current location. Toward that end Opportunity has been doing a lot of driving. Though the terrain is particularly rough and steep, she managed to travel about 256 feet (78 meters) in four drives during this latest period.

As of Sol 4623 (Jan. 24, 2017), the solar array energy production was 416 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.684 and a solar array dust factor of 0.650.

Total odometry is 27.26 miles (43.87 kilometers).

Driving Up a Steep Slope

sols 4610 - 4616, January 11, 2017 - January 17, 2017

Opportunity is located on the rim of Endeavour Crater, heading south along the rim.

The rover is trying to make progress towards the next major scientific objective, the gully about a kilometer south of the current location. However, the local terrain has been a challenge with steep slopes (over 20 degrees) and terrain that breaks down into loose material under the driving shear forces of the rover's wheels.

On Sol 4611 (Jan. 12, 2017), Opportunity attempted to drive up a steep slope, but flight software stopped the drive after just 4 feet (1.25 meters) when it sensed that the wheels were drawing too much current, a possible indicator of embedding. Drive imagery showed the surface material crumbling and causing the wheels to slip. That drive was part of a three-sol plan that included a late-night MAVEN Ultra High Frequency (UHF) relay pass. Because the MAVEN pass required the rover to stay up near midnight, a nighttime Demos moon observation was successfully captured and returned over the MAVEN pass. On the next sol, no relay data were returned from the rover because the Odyssey orbiter's low-elevation flight pass was occulted by the elevated horizon.

To get Opportunity going again, the rover was commanded on Sol 4614 (Jan. 15, 2017), to back down about half a meter then turn left and travel more cross slope to exposed rock outcrop. This was successful with the rover completing all 48 feet (14.67 meters) of the commanded drive with little slip. An atmospheric argon measurement by the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) was also performed on the same sol after the drive. As is the case after each move, Opportunity collects extensive imagery to support both driving and science.

As of Sol 4615 (Jan. 16, 2017), the solar array energy production was 500 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.657 and a solar array dust factor of 0.670.

Total odometry is 27.21 miles (43.79 kilometers).

Opportunity Continues Its Journey South Along Crater Rim

sols 4603 - 4609, January 04, 2017 - January 10, 2017

Opportunity is located on the rim of Endeavour Crater, heading south along the rim.

The near-term plan is to reach a valley called 'Willamette' where grooves are seen in orbital imagery. The rover had recently disturbed the surface soil during a challenging uphill drive and revealed some interesting bright material. The science team saw this as an opportunity to conduct some long overdue in-situ (contact) analysis. So, on Sol 4603 (Jan. 4, 2017), Opportunity began using the robotic arm to investigate the exposed material, first with the Microscopic Imager (MI) to collect a mosaic of the surface and then placing the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the ground for a multi-hour integration.

On Sol 4605 (Jan. 6, 2017), an offset surface target was selected, again for a MI mosaic and offset APXS placement. During these sols, remote sensing imagery with the Panoramic Camera (Pancam) and Navigation Camera (Navcam) cameras was also collected. On Sol 4607 (Jan. 8, 2017), it became time to get on the road again. Opportunity drove about 41 feet (12.6 meter) to the northeast to get around some troubling terrain. Then on Sol 4609 (Jan. 10, 2017), the rover headed roughly west in a two-segment drive, totaling over 82 feet (25 meters).

As of Sol 4609 (Jan. 10, 2017), the solar array energy production was 463 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.724 and a solar array dust factor of 0.671.

Total odometry is 27.20 miles (43.77 kilometers).

A New Year Yields Interesting Bright Soil

sols 4590 - 4602, December 22, 2016 - January 03, 2017

Opportunity is located on the rim of Endeavour crater, heading south along the rim. The near-term plan is to reach a valley called "Willamette" where grooves are seen in orbital imagery. Just before the holidays, the rover encountered some difficult, steep terrain. As the rover tried to advance up 20-degree slopes, the wheels began to dig up the soil and progress slowed to a near stop. Sensing this, the rover stopped her drive and waited. So, on Sol 4590 (Dec. 22, 2016), the team had Opportunity back down a short, 2-foot (70-cm) distance to put the rover on a more solid footing.

Before we could continue with rover activities through the holidays, Mars Odyssey went into "safe mode," an event that prevented relay data return from Opportunity. The rover was patient for several sols and in good health. With Odyssey back, on Sol 4601 (January 2, 2017) Opportunity moved another 6.6 feet (2 meters) to get a good look of the terrain that was disturbed during the up-hill driving challenge. The disturbed soil reveals brightly colored, unconsolidated material that is of great interest to the science team. So, the plan ahead is to use the rover's robotic arm instruments to investigate this bright soil.

As of Sol 4602, (January 3, 2017) the solar array energy production is 520 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.752 and a solar array dust factor of 0.683.

Total odometry is 27.17 miles (43.74 kilometers).