OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Slow-Going for Opportunity This Week - sols 3009-3016, July 11-18, 2012:
Opportunity is roving at the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater. However, her progress has been impacted by the recent safe mode entry by the relay orbiter, Mars Odyssey.
On Sol 3010 (July 12, 2012), Opportunity drove just over 180 feet (55 meters) south towards a small impact crater, named "Sao Gabriel," for investigation. On Sol 3011 (July 13, 2012), the rover's Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer collected a measurement of atmospheric argon. But subsequent to the Sol 3010 (July 12, 2012), drive, Odyssey went into safe mode. In response to the absence of relay support from the orbiter, several rover X-band sessions with the Deep Space Network were converted to Direct-to-Earth passes to receive a small amount of telemetry to assess the health of the rover. Until the return of relay support from Odyssey, the plans for Opportunity were kept simple with a modest photometry campaign, daily observations of atmospheric opacity (tau) and other low-data volume remote sensing.
The Mars Color Imager on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been observing a local Martian dust storm near Endeavour Crater. The local storm has elevated the atmospheric opacity over the rover site. Water ice cloud cover seen around the rover site is both an indication that the dust storm had abated but there were still elevated levels of atmospheric dust in the region as a result of the storm. (water-ice is nucleating on the suspended dust particles.)
From Sol 3010 (July 12, 2012), the solar array energy production was 523 watt-hours with a solar array dust factor of 0.707. As of Sol 3016 (July 18, 2012), the atmospheric opacity (Tau) is elevated at 0.571.
Total odometry is 21.49 miles (34,580.05 meters).