Opportunity enters Perseverance Valley


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Opportunity in Perseverance Valley

Just prior to the drop in communications this week because of the Sun’s position between the Earth and Mars, Opportunity was ordered down into Perseverance Valley, where it will sit until the return of full communications.

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.

The image on the right, reduced to show here, was taken by the rover’s navigation camera looking back uphill at the crater’s crest and the rover’s tracks in the valley. For the scientists the tracks are important because they reveal what the surface of the valley is like, which will help them determine whether it was formed from flowing water, flowing ice, or wind.

Even more significant, this initial drive into the valley means the science team has decided that either the wheel issues in June were not serious enough to prevent them from making this downhill trip, or the science is important enough that they are willing to risk the rover to get that science.

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2 comments

  • Judy

    We don’t have a relay satellite at L4 or L5?

  • Gealon

    Nope. It costs a lot of money to launch a satellite. Since there is, as far as I know, no scientific value for one to sit at a LaGrange point, no one has seen fit to invest the money in sending one there. I would have suggested the possibility of using a polar orbiting solar satellite to bounce communications over/under the sun, but as I recall, Ulysses was the only one in polar orbit and is no longer functioning. As it stands, it’s more cost effective just to put up with the two weeks of down time than it would be to launch a satellite for the sole purpose of relaying communications during the brief times of solar conjunction with other planets.

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