Good news – no, great news! Brilliant news! FANTASTIC news!! Here’s the official update from NASA:
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Slight Cleaning of Solar Panels – sols 2873-2879, February 22-28, 2012:
Opportunity is positioned on the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater with an approximate 15-degree northerly tilt for favorable solar energy production.
While positioned for the winter, Opportunity is conducting regular radio Doppler tracking measurements to support geo-dynamic investigations of the planet, in-situ (contact) science investigations of the rock target, “Amboy,” including Microscopic Imager mosaics and long Mössbauer spectrometer integrations, and continued collection of Panoramic Camera (Pancam) images.
Radio Doppler tracking passes were performed on Sols 2873, 2875, 2877 and 2878 (Feb. 22, 24, 26 and 27). Microscopic Imager mosaics were performed on Sols 2873, 2874 and 2879 (Feb. 22, 23 and 28). The Mössbauer spectrometer was placed down again on Amboy for further integration time after each Microscopic Imager mosaic. Additional 13-filter Pancam images of foreground targets were taken. In the last few sols, there has been a small amount of solar array cleaning (dust factor improvement).
As of Sol 2879 (Feb. 28, 2012), solar array energy production was 305 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.520 and a modestly improved solar array dust factor of 0.489. A recent recalibration of atmospheric opacity resulted in a re-baseline of dust factor numbers.
Total odometry is unchanged at 21.35 miles (34,361.37 meters).
Translation from spacespeak: “A brief gust or whisper of wind has wafted over Oppy, removing a little of the dust from her solar panels, meaning she has a little more energy to work with and the MER team are doing happy dances.”
Let’s hope more “cleaning events” happen, and Oppy starts to look less like someone has dumped a big bucket of orange dirt over her..!
A couple of new pictures for you all…