We can't talk to our Mars spacecraft right now because there's a giant flaming ball of gas in the way. No, not Rush Limbaugh -- the Sun.
That joke, like solar conjunction (what we call this Earth-Sun-Mars arrangement) and launch opportunities, happens about every 26 months. Typically, it's a good time for the rovers to take it easy. Logistically, it's just like planning for a very, very long weekend. In past years, for example, we've had Opportunity plant her Mossbauer instrument and just turn it on for a multi-week-long integration. No driving, and only a little science.
It's also a good time for the ops team to take it easy -- you can go on a nice long vacation without missing anything, for example. Or just catch up on email, or whatever.
Eager beaver that I am, though, I spent my first-ever solar conjunction writing some software I'd been thinking about: mPhoto, which was conceived as "iPhoto for MER." It rapidly brought up thumbnails of the latest downlinked images, and it let you see the full-size versions in (anaglyph) 3-D or composed them into uncalibrated color images. You could also save them out as PNGs or JPGs. It was a fast, broadly useful ops tool that I and others soon made a routine part of our daily work.
But this year, for solar conjunction, I'm marrying +Kimberly Lichtenberg