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On Tuesday, July 17, the output from Opportunity's solar panels dropped to 148 watt hours, the lowest point for either rover. On Wednesday, Opportunity's solar-panel output dropped even lower, to 128 watt hours.
The twin rovers on Mars are in good shape today despite widespread dust storms that worsened last week and threatened to cut off solar power to the robotic explorers.
Steve Squyres of Cornell University, the lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) project, said that both Spirit and Opportunity are in "excellent shape" based on a radio transmission received this morning.
"Both came through the weekend beautifully," Squyres said in a telephone interview. "They were both power positive over the weekend, meaning they were generating more power than they were consuming."
The amount of sunlight penetrating the dust-choked martian atmosphere has increased slightly in recent days, and the batteries of both rovers are fully charged,
Victoria crater may be the last major site that Opportunity will visit. One reason is that the large, deep crater may take up to a year to analyse thoroughly. Secondly, there are few other places of interest in the nearby vicinity and other craters deeper than Victoria are more than 25 km away.