As we in the Northern Hemisphere (on Earth) enjoy the warmer days of Spring, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is having a very similar springtime celebration. Whereas the onset of Spring may put us in a good mood, springtime on Mars has culminated in a very happy series of events for the tenacious rover, boosting Opportunity's solar power output by a whopping 70 percent.
PHOTOS: 10 Years On Mars: Opportunity's First Sols
Having spent over 10 years roving the Martian regolith, Opportunity has seen plenty of inclement weather that has deposited an ever-increasingly thick layer of dust across its solar panels, creating an opaque, sun-blocking coat. But twice in the past two weeks the rover has experienced "cleaning events" that have blown some of the rusty powder away, allowing more sunlight to fall on the solar arrays, giving the six-wheeled rover a seasonal power-up.
Add these fortuitous events to the fact that the Martian southern hemisphere is entering spring - so the sun is rising higher above the horizon - and Opportunity is now generating over 615 watt hours of power; an increase of 70 percent when compared to the rover's power levels two months ago.