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Mars rover Opportunity engulfed by dust storm

Posted on Monday, 11 June, 2018 | Comment icon 58 comments

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: | Comments (58)

Tags: Mars, Rover

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #49 Posted by Merc14 on 15 June, 2018, 12:24
I couldn't find a single dual power system so thanks for the Nimbus info. Many have a nuclear power source for heating elements and such, as stated above, but they can not be considered a main power source, it is either solar or RTG but never both. Do the Russians or some other country have any such craft?
Comment icon #50 Posted by Merc14 on 15 June, 2018, 12:36
I did my "happy googling" and came up empty. Waspie checked in and backs this up, zero operational craft with both solar and RTG power sources except for test beds. Couldn't find a single dual powered craft, space borne or rover so I am calling BS on your "common space probe science" (highlighting is your's) and can only guess at why you would make this claim when it is so easily disproved.
Comment icon #51 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 June, 2018, 20:32
I know the Russians have nuclear powered satellites but I don't think that they use RTGs. They have never sent a spacecraft beyond Mars orbit and I believe all their deep space probes have been solar powered. I don't know of anyone other than the USA using RTGs. Something in the back of my mind says that ESA used an RTG but it was supplied by NASA. Currently on the bus home so I will have to look into that later.
Comment icon #52 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 June, 2018, 12:08
Comment icon #53 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 June, 2018, 23:04
Martian Dust Storm Grows Global: Curiosity Captures Photos of Thickening Haze
Comment icon #54 Posted by cyclopes500 on 23 June, 2018, 11:54
People talk about fans blowing the dust off the panels. Isn't the Mars atmosphere a bit too thin for that. I would have thought a can of compressed Mars air would be better.
Comment icon #55 Posted by Merc14 on 23 June, 2018, 14:40
Wind has been blowing dust off the panels for years now, that is a fact unless a team of martians is doing it. Likely the little dust devil storms that pop up all over the surface
Comment icon #56 Posted by MWoo7 on 23 June, 2018, 18:35
Now its a full on Global Dust Storm eh?!?!? . .
Comment icon #57 Posted by qxcontinuum on 24 June, 2018, 4:05
So a planet who lost its entire atmosphere is not engolfed in a planetary storm? How so?
Comment icon #58 Posted by qxcontinuum on 24 June, 2018, 10:02
Correction; is now* engolfed .

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