(Phys.org) -- With its daily supply of solar energy increasing, NASA's durable Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has driven off the sunward-tilted outcrop, called Greeley Haven, where it worked during its fifth Martian winter.
Opportunity's first drive since Dec. 26, 2011, took the rover about 12 feet (3.67 meters) northwest and downhill on Tuesday, May 8. The rover operations team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received confirmation of the completed drive late Tuesday, relayed from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.
"We're off the Greeley Haven outcrop onto the sand just below it," said rover driver Ashley Stroupe of JPL. "It feels good to be on the move again."
While at Greeley Haven for the past 19 weeks, Opportunity used the spectrometers and microscopic imager on its robotic arm to inspect more than a dozen targets within reach on the outcrop. Radio Doppler signals from the stationary rover during the winter months served an investigation of the interior of Mars by providing precise information about the planet's rotation.
Opportunity will look back with its panoramic camera to acquire multi-filter imaging of the surface targets it studied on Greeley Haven.