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Mars rover Opportunity engulfed by dust storm

Posted on Monday, 11 June, 2018 | Comment icon 73 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 (73)

Tags: Mars, Rover

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #64 Posted by Occams Razor on 25 June, 2018, 7:16
Even if a fan/blower had been included there wouldn't be enough sunlight reaching the panels through all the dust blowing around in the dust storm... it will be miles thick.
Comment icon #65 Posted by cyclopes500 on 25 June, 2018, 15:41
If I had a billion quid to spend I'd like to send a tracked nuclear powered rover to the Marsian poles to look at the ice.
Comment icon #66 Posted by Merc14 on 25 June, 2018, 16:01
I don't think it is because of money, it is a because of the 1967 outer space treaty which forbids everyone from sending a robot or human anywhere near a possible water source for fear of contaminating it.  Right now it is nearly impossible to completely sterilize any device we send to Mars due to the inherent resilience of terrestrial microbes and until we can resolve that problem we are forced to analyze from a distance.
Comment icon #67 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 July, 2018, 2:06
"Storm Chasers" on Mars Searching for Dusty Secrets  
Comment icon #68 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 29 July, 2018, 12:22
Comment icon #69 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 September, 2018, 21:01
Martian Skies Clearing over Opportunity Rover  
Comment icon #70 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 September, 2018, 1:47
Martian Skies Clearing over Opportunity Rover  
Comment icon #71 Posted by Still Waters on 26 September, 2018, 14:30
Comment icon #72 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 1 October, 2018, 20:06
How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm  
Comment icon #73 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 14 October, 2018, 9:11
Update on Opportunity Rover after Martian Dust Storm  

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