Thirteen years into its 90 day mission, Opportunity is still the rover that wouldn’t die. (Not that it’s been easy; mission controllers have worked very hard to nurse it along.) So what’s it up to now? Well, it’s trying to climb the steepest incline it’s ever attempted, in hopes of getting close enough to put its sensor arm onto a bit of rock on the top of a ridge nicknamed Knudsen Ridge in Marathon Valley in Endeavour Crater. The rock looked very intriguingly like it might give more clues to Mars’ hydrological history, which is of course the primary mission of the Opportunity rover. Knowing that the terrain would badly challenge the robot, mission controllers commanded enough wheel turns to advance it 20 meters if they were on level terrain; due to the steep incline (32 degrees!), the wheels slipped instead and they only traveled about nine centimeters. So instead, they’ve gone back down the slope and moved along to another interesting outcrop.
It really is the rover that won’t give up. 😉
The rover did return this rather interesting view during one of its self-inspection photo sessions — it appears all the juddering and jolting that would’ve happened during that unsuccessful climb dislodged the fine dust that covers the rover. Maybe this could become a new way of shaking off the dust?