NASA parks Mars rover Opportunity for the Martian winter

In cold climates, here on Earth around the US lots of folks have to park some of their vehicles for the long and cold winter. On Mars, the same story is true where each winter the Opportunity rover has to seek out a place and park for the winter. This year NASA has found a very nice place for Opportunity to sit out the winter.

NASA has chosen a place unofficially called Greeley Haven after the late scientist Ronald Greeley that passed away in October 2011. This winter Opportunity will sit near the rim of the massive Endeavour crater. It has taken the rover three years to make its way to the rim of the crater. The reason Greeley Haven was chosen is that the 15-degree slope will allow the solar panels on the rover to absorb more light.

This is the first winter that Opportunity has spent on a slope angling its panels for more collection of sunlight. The reason the angled location was chosen is that the solar panels on the rover have an extra-heavy coating of dust. While parked, Opportunity will take the winter to study the rocks near Greeley Haven. The rover will continue studying the crater rim taking off again in June or July. This is the fifth Martian winter Opportunity has been on mars. The rover was originally expected to last only 90 days on Mars.

[via MSNBC]