Oppy on the move…

…but no-one knows why…

(cue X Files music…)

Hmmm. Let me explain.

Pictures taken by Oppy’s front hazard cameras show that her front left wheel recently dropped for some reason. I’ve animated the pics here – watch the wheel on the left and you can see how its position changes, while the wheel on the right doesn’t move a bit…

Now, that’s not much, just a little, but it was still enough to raise eyebrows, and to start the team trying to figure out what happened. Here’s the appropriate section from the latest official MER Status update:

On Sol 2899, the robotic arm (Instrument Deployment Device, or IDD) experienced a safety stall in preparation for the MI mosaic imaging. The imaging executed successfully, and the Mössbauer spectrometer was subsequently placed on the target “Amboy,” as planned. Imagery from the front hazard-avoidance camera showed that the left-front wheel apparently dropped by a small amount, roughly half an inch (1 centimeter), sometime between Sol 2894 and Sol 2899. The rover is safe, healthy and stable. There is no indication of risk to Opportunity. But the small drop in the left-front wheel is curious. The IDD safety stall may be related. The project is investigating this. Diagnostic activities have been sequenced for Sol 2901 (March 22, 2012).

Meanwhile, Oppy is continuing to take pictures of the landscape around her, and here are a couple of my coloured views, which I hope you like…

This first one shows a feature christened “Mt Ada”…

More soon, so  check back when you’re free to!

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