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On Tuesday (May 8), the Opportunity rover moved its wheels for the first time since late December, NASA officials said. The rover drove about 12 feet (3.7 meters) downhill from its overwintering site, a spot on the rim of the huge Endeavour Crater that scientists dubbed Greeley Haven.
"Opportunity has finally moved for the first time since settling into our winter haven," said James Rice, a rover mission co-investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Opportunity parked at Greeley in late 2011 to take advantage of the outcrop's sun-facing slope, boosting output from the rover's dusty solar panels during the winter. But Opportunity remained awake and alert the whole time, checking out more than a dozen rocks within reach of its robotic arm.
The rover team also used radio signals from the stationary Opportunity to study Mars' rotation, work that could lead to a better understanding of the Red Planet's interior, researchers said.
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