back to article Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning

The winds on Mars have been scouring the surface of the Opportunity rover, and NASA says the plucky little robot is now cleaner than it has been in nearly a decade. Opportunity selfie What a difference a few months of wind makes (click to enlarge) Back in January, Opportunity took a selfie using its panoramic camera, …


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  1. willi0000000


    winds in that thin atmosphere couldn't possibly clean the solar array that effectively. it is becoming more and more obvious that the martians are staying out of sight except for the occasional glint of sunlight from their trinoculars.

    [i'm not saying it's aliens . . . but ...]

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: ha!

      Must have got caught at some traffic lights.

      Solar panel wash mate?


      I'll do it anyway....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ha!

        So Mars is inhabited by Pikeys too

        1. Captain Scarlet

          Re: ha!

          "So Mars is inhabited by Pikeys too"

          No we also like shiney things!

    2. DropBear

      Re: ha!

      i'm not saying it's aliens . . . but ...

      Well, HP told us all about that quite a while ago...

    3. TitterYeNot

      Re: ha!

      "i'm not saying it's aliens . . . but ..."

      I'm afraid this is further evidence of a lack of intelligent life on Mars.

      Come on, what sort of life form could resist the temptation to scrawl 'CLEAN ME' in badly written letters on those invitingly dusty panels?

      1. Mussie (Ed)

        Re: ha!

        Could you imagine the freak out if that actually happened Bwhahahah

  2. Wzrd1

    It goes to prove, the astronomers were right.

    Mars blows.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Olympian Encouragement and Simply Sublime Complex Reward like No Other* ....

      ..... Pays Dividends Beyond Compare

      It goes to prove, the astronomers were right.

      Mars blows. .... Wzrd 1

      And/Or as all Roscosmonauts and ARGonauts know, and give hearty praise and be heavenly and devilishly thankful for, does Venus suck, Wzrd 1, and I guess that proves the astronomers guesses are half right rather than half wrong, which would then render everything spouted and thought fundamentally secure, shaky at best and totally wrong. And just imagine that, all of those life's works employed on and engaged in creating a heavenly dream environment and chasing a phantom existence/virtual reality staged production.

      *Uniquely Universal and Alternatively Autonomously Actualising.

  3. frank ly

    Strong winds

    They can clean a surface, yes. but what if they cause a dust storm instead?

    1. handle

      Re: Strong winds

      Then presumably the thing will sit there comatose until there are more moderate winds which blow the dust off the panels again. Let's hope the thing shuts itself down before the batteries are discharged beyond repair!

    2. All names Taken

      Re: Strong winds

      Have you tried Windeze?

      Feels like a Saturday today and its gone 11 a.m. already!

    3. Don Jefe

      Re: Strong winds

      To you it's a dust storm, to Sandy Clean Rover Maintenance it is a key component in their business plan that's centered around utilizing the natural weather patterns of their planet for fun and profit.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @Don Jefe --- Re: Strong winds

        You beat me to it.. Rats. Here I was setting up a business plan and preparing to look for VC to start such a thing.. Have one for being more on the ball today.

    4. Stevie

      Re: what if they cause a dust storm instead?

      Never mind that. We've seen this thing can survive a few years of filth. What about the threat of Monsters from the Id?

      I tell you all this "science" is a certain path to doom and madness.

  4. G2


    for the wrong rover though... but valid nonetheless.

  5. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    I wish...

    I wish my car was that plucky and reliable, rather than just being similarly dirty...

    An Easter pint to the true survivor though.

  6. ratfox

    Martian days now getting longer in Opportunity's time zone

    The length of days depends on the latitude, not the time zone!

  7. handle

    Bird droppings

    Thankfully there aren't any bird droppings on them - a bit of wind, or indeed a bit of rain, wouldn't shift those.

    Is there another power/energy fail going on here, el Reg? What does "to more than 615 watt hours" mean? That's a measure of energy: how long does it take to generate 615 watt hours? One Martian day? Article could be clearer, like the panels.

    1. cray74

      Re: Bird droppings

      NASA measures the amount of energy (vs. power) accumulated by the rovers' solar panels in terms of watt-hours per Sol. How El Reg measures or explains it another matter.

  8. SW10

    Son of Voyager

    One day my kids might just look through their iContactLens 6 and marvel at how much could be achieved with laughable noughties technology.

    1. Roger Varley

      Re: Son of Voyager

      I doubt it's even noughties technology - you don't send bleeding edge technology on space missions, you send well understood, proven technology - it's probably using the space industry equivalent of Windows 98 tech.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Son of Voyager

      We hope they will be able to.

  9. i like crisps

    Surprised really...

    ...that it hasn't took more pictures of Donkeys....they still have them on Blackpool sands, don't they?

    1. Michael Strorm

      Donkeys on Mars?!

      All the donkeys died due to the totally unbreathable atmosphere and -65 degree centigrade temperatures.

      Yep, Blackpool in winter is harsh on those poor donkeys...

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. promytius


    60% efficiency boosted by 70% = 102%. Doesn't anyone edit this bad data?

    Americans... here's a "60%" factoid: 60% of Americans cannot locate their own country on a world map.

    1. LordHighFixer


      "60% efficiency boosted by 70% = 102%. Doesn't anyone edit this bad data?"

      Now I know how all the perpetual energy nutters do their math. I hate to break it to you but when you have less than 100% of x and increase its efficiency by less than 100% you can not get over 100%. Try again.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge


        @LordHighFixer Instead of being insulting, why not get off that pedestal you seem to be on and explain to the guy where he went wrong? As a mathematician don't you feel obliged to help others?

        Indeed, I'm sure a worked example would have taken you less time than your oringinal comment.

        1. Steve Todd


          He's talking pure rubbish, that's why. If you've got 50% or less of something then you need 100% improvement or better to reach 100% or more of the total. If you have 99% of that thing then you need just over 1% improvement to reach 100%

          In this case the math is 0.6 + 0.6 * 0.7 = 1.02 = 102%

          So either the panels were previously running at about 362W out of their fully rated 1000W and are now running at 615 (or just over 60%) and El Reg misquoted or someone has seriously mucked up their math.

        2. Uffish

          Re: Insulting

          @Will Godfrey

          You call that insulting? Or perhaps you were thinking along the lines of lèse majesté.

    2. handle


      As any fule kno, there is no such thing as a 60% efficient solar panel, so the figure cannot be referring to the proportion of solar energy being converted to electrical energy. Instead, perhaps it's referring to the proportion of power being generated compared with what was expected? In which case, it's now even better than what was expected.

    3. Derpity


      100% of trolls fail 50% of logic tests. 150% of trolls are failures?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "60% efficiency boosted by 70% = 102%."

      Nonsense -- it's 130%, of course.



      It was at 60%, so the most likely scenario is a typo, so that "has been boosted by more than 70 percent" should have said "has been boosted to more than 70 percent"... a 10% improvement would tally with real life expectations, and is described with a similar level of accuracy as the previous level.

      If it wasn't a typo, then we would have to assume the 70% refers to portion recovered from the 40% deficiency, i.e. a 28% improvement, bringing it up from 60% to 88% of capacity.

  12. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    No one seems... have drawn the obvious lesson for us down here on Earth.

    WE are being forced to embrace photovoltaic technology as well. How long will it be before we are closing everything down for the winter, and hoping for a good wind come spring to clear our power generators...?

    1. willi0000000

      Re: No one seems...

      nobody is being forced to embrace photovoltaic technology. what you do with your solar panels in the privacy of your own home is none of our business.

    2. handle

      How long will it be?

      About as long as it takes for it to stop raining permanently and for the earth to be covered in fine dust. In which case we'll have more important things to worry about than how much power our solar panels are producing.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: No one seems...

      It might have been a better troll if you'd pointed to the amount of water that is used to clean solar panels on Earth, which is indeed a problem in some areas.

  13. All names Taken

    Photovoltaic technology is innocent!

  14. MrT

    What's really encouraging...

    ... is they're still confident enough in the rover to be planning another 2-year trip on top of the time already spent out there. Needs "Keep clean and carry on!" on a t-shirt, under a silhouette of Opportunity, all superimposed over Mars.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The trip should take about two years

    For a machine with a minimum expected lifetime of 90 days, to have gone on for 10 years is amazing. That they are planning a TWO YEAR journey for said machine and expecting it to get there is astounding.

    Pints all 'round for the designers, engineers, operators....oh what the hell...pints all 'round for everyone!


    1. handle

      Re: The trip should take about two years

      If it were European it would have had at least a 1 year warranty...

  16. Cynicalmark

    Where are they?

    I wonder how long before a shopping trolley is found on Mars. Truly the one item found just about everywhere....a universal constant hehe

  17. Sampler


    So they expected dust build up to be a problem from the previous rover and they didn't think of fitting it with wipers to clear the panels? I mean, in a company full of rocket scientists, that isn't rocket science...

    1. Not That Andrew

      Re: wipers?

      Extra mass, more things to break

      1. willi0000000

        Re: wipers?

        as previously noted, they didn't include a jack and a spare either.

        1. Sampler

          Re: wipers?

          Not that much mass and if they break then you're still in the same boat of a ninety day life expectancy - really the gains of adding them surely outweigh (pun intended) the negatives?

  18. Tiweh


    For more than a decade many digital camera sensors have been fitted with piezo buzzers to shake dust off on startup and shutdown. Is there some reason why something like this, scaled up, hasn't been fitted to Mars rovers after the problem was first identified by Sojourner?

    I'd have thought that the weight penalty would be more than offset by the extended efficiency.

    Every now and again the lander could shake itself like a wet dog, a rover indeed. Especially if there was a wind at the time.

  19. Stevie


    All the things they attached to the robot arm of that thing and "feather duster" never made the list?

    Another win for so-called "scientists".

    Seriously. When do we demand they give back their Clever Person certificates?

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