Mars rover to settle in for long winter

Jan. 5, 2012 at 6:39 PM

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- NASA says its Opportunity Mars rover will spend its fifth martian winter working at a location informally named "Greeley Haven."

The site is named as a tribute to planetary geologist Ronald Greeley, a member of the science team for the Mars rovers who died in October, a NASA release said Thursday.

The site features a sun-facing slope that will help the rover maintain adequate solar power during its fifth martian winter.

Opportunity's solar panels have accumulated a thick coating of dust, so although it did not need to stay on sun-facing slopes during previous martian winters, researchers say they want to give the rover as much help in the coming winter as they can.

While at Greeley Haven Opportunity will inspect mineral compositions and textures on the outcrop and record a full-circle, color panorama of the area.

The winter site is located on the rim of the 14-mile-wide Endeavour Crater, where Opportunity arrived five months ago after three years of driving from the smaller Victoria Crater, which it studied for two years.

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