Mars Rover Takes 'Selfie' After Spring Cleaning

Image: Mars Rover Takes 'Selfie' After Spring Cleaning

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 11:05 PM

By Jason Devaney

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A recent 'selfie' taken by the Mars rover Opportunity shows it is taking full advantage of the Martian winds' cleaning powers.

In a January self-portrait,  showed how dusty it had gotten by exploring the surface of the red planet. A layer of grime covered almost every inch of the unit and it was operating at just 60 percent of its power.

After a few months of sitting still while it charged its lithium ion batteries, however, the rover showed what a good windstorm can do: A spring cleaning.

"In its sixth Martian winter, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity now has cleaner solar arrays than in any Martian winter since its first on the Red Planet, in 2005," a NASA report says. "Cleaning effects of wind events in March boosted the amount of electricity available for the rover's work."

Of course, the rover will never be as clean as it was before it left Earth.

Still, the cleaning has given it the opportunity to keep exploring the Martian planet. Engineers first expected the rover to last a few months because of dust covering its solar panels. But the vehicle has been on the planet since January 2004.

Earlier this year, scientists announced the rover had discovered signs that Mars, at one time, had fresh water.


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