OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Drives A Little - sols 2981-2989, June 12-20, 2012:
Opportunity has been exploring the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater.
With Mars Odyssey still working to recover from their safe mode event, Ultra High Frequency (UHF) relay for the rover has been limited to just two UHF relay passes per week from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. From a combination of the limited MRO relay and the use of Direct-to-Earth X-band passes on the rover, Opportunity was able to perform some driving.
On Sol 2981 (June 12, 2012), the rover drove a little over 56 feet (17 meters) to the north, approaching the boundary between the Cape York geologic unit and the Meridiani plains. On Sol 2989 (June 20, 2012), Opportunity bumped just over 16 feet (5 meters) north to straddle the contact unit between Cape York and Meridiani, and position a candidate target within the work volume of the robotic arm. Opportunity also performed two atmospheric argon measurements on Sols 2982 and 2987 (June 13 and June 18, 2012), using the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer.
The rover continues to benefit from solar array dust cleaning events, which have greatly increased the daily energy production. As of Sol 2989 (June 20, 2012), solar array energy production was 526 watt-hours with a lower atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.229 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.684.
Total odometry is 21.43 miles (34,491.99 meters).