Opportunity Status Report: Opportunity is continuing her winter exploration of “Perseverance Valley” on the west rim of Endeavour Crater.
The rover is positioned upstream of a fork in the flow channels. After some deliberation, it was decided to take the northern branch of this fork and on Sol 4958 (Jan. 3, 2018), Opportunity drove about 13 feet (4 meters) in that direction. The rest of this period was devoted to only remote sensing and use of the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on Sol 4961 (Jan. 6, 2018), to keep the rover state as stable as possible. Meanwhile, we prepared and executed a test of the Zero Degree Heater (ZDH) on the batteries.
Opportunity’s batteries have performed very well over the mission’s lifetime but are showing some signs of aging. Martian environment is quite cold and it was suspected that warming the battery during the recharge process may make the battery both more effective and degrade slower. Though never used in flight, the ZDH was intended to do just that-warm the battery. Since it has never been turned on in flight we wanted to be very cautious before using it operationally and so a testing campaign was formulated… [More at link]