PIA03608: Solar-Panel Dust Accumulation and Cleanings
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars Exploration Rover (MER)
 Spacecraft:  Opportunity
 Product Size:  896 x 549 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA03608.tif (494.2 kB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA03608.jpg (57.98 kB)

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Air-fall dust accumulates on the solar panels of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the solar arrays. Pre-launch models predicted steady dust accumulation. However, the rovers have been blessed with occasional wind events that clear significant amounts of dust from the solar panels.

This graph shows the effects of those panel-cleaning events on the amount of electricity generated by Spirit's solar panels. The horizontal scale is the number of Martian days (sols) after Spirit's Jan. 4, 2005, (Universal Time) landing on Mars. The vertical scale indicates output from the rover's solar panels as a fraction of the amount produced when the clean panels first opened. Note that the gradual declines are interrupted by occasional sharp increases, such as a dust-cleaning event on sol 420.

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