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Even the most identical of twins have their unique differences and the same goes for NASA’s Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
Built to be as identical as possible before launch, Spirit and Opportunity have spent more than 400 Martian days – called sols – exploring two very different environments on the red planet, as demonstrated in these two self portraits.
Spirit (top) has used its time to rove across its Gusev Crater landing site and scale the region’s Columbia Hills. The dusty region has caused a layer of Mars dust to accumulate on the rover’s solar panels. That dust has cut the amount of sunlight the array receives, forcing mission managers to make sure Spirit rests facing the Sun in order to collect as much light as possible.
But the solar panels on Opportunity (bottom) look nearly spotless from above as it rolls across the plains of its Meridiani Planum landing zone. Mars scientists believe the rover has experienced several odd cleaning events that have swept dust from the solar array.
“Opportunity looks like it just came off the showroom floor,” said Steven Squyres, principal investigator for rover mission at Cornell University, during a press briefing on Feb. 18, when he unveiled these two images.
The Spirit portrait was taken between Spirit’s 329th and 330th day on Mars (between Dec. 7-8, 2004 on Earth). Opportunity’s snapped its own self portrait on the 322nd and 323rd day of its exploration mission (between Dec. 19-20, 2004).
Both images were taken with the panoramic camera that sits atop a mast extending stemming up from each rover’s solar panel deck. The mast itself is omitted in these images because of the downward-looking view.
-- Tariq Malik
Originally posted by VirusClock
They should of made the panels moveable so they could twist at an angle to let the dust that collected slide off. I guess they didnt' add this sinse they didn't expect them to live that long.