Mars Rover Opportunity Update: December 23-27, 2011

sols 2813-2817, December 23-27, 2011: Opportunity is positioned at a candidate site for Mars' southern hemisphere winter. The rover is at the north end of 'Cape York' on the rim of Endeavour Crater, tilted about 15 degrees to the north for favorable solar energy production.

Opportunity experienced anomalously high current in the right-front wheel on Sol 2808 (Dec. 17, 2011). Diagnostics on Sols 2810 and 2812 (Dec. 20 and 22, 2011) indicated a nominal wheel and drive actuator with the terrain being the indicated explanation for the high current. On Sol 2816 (Dec. 26, 2011), the rover performed an 8-inch (0.2-meter) diagnostic backward drive. The drive completed successfully with Opportunity maintaining its 15-degree northerly tilt, sufficient for the winter period.

The plan ahead is to conduct some contact measurements with the instruments on the robotic arm to see if this location offers substantive in-situ science opportunities during the winter months. Opportunity will also begin a radio Doppler tracking campaign at the start of the new year.

As of Sol 2817 (Dec. 27, 2011), solar array energy production was 290 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.685 and a solar array dust factor of 0.475. Total odometry as of Sol 2816 (Dec. 26, 2011) is 21.35 miles (34,361.37 meters).

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