Opportunity will need to wait out the storm. Image Credit: NASA
The long-lived rover has halted its science work while it waits out a massive dust storm on Mars.
Opportunity is certainly no stranger to the extreme weather conditions that exist on the Red Planet having been trundling across its dusty surface for almost 15 years.
This latest dust storm, which is one of several endured by the rover during its time on Mars, is not the largest it has seen but is still significant enough to warrant hunkering down.
On Mars, dust storms can last anywhere from a few days to several months.
"As soon as the orbiter team saw how close the storm was to Opportunity, they notified the rover's team to begin preparing contingency plans," NASA wrote.
"In a matter of days, the storm had ballooned."
During the storm, the rover, which relies on solar power to stay alive, will need to conserve as much energy as possible as its solar panels will no longer function effectively.
The biggest concern is that if it gets too cold, the rover could fail completely.
"There is a risk to the rover if the storm persists for too long and Opportunity gets too cold while waiting for the skies to clear," NASA wrote.
This was the fate of Opportunity's twin rover Spirit which got stuck back in 2010.
With any luck however the storm will pass and Opportunity will be back up and running in no time.
Source: Space.com | Comments (68)