Lost Opportunity?: NASA rover threatened by intense Martian dust storm

Lost Opportunity?: NASA rover threatened by intense Martian dust storm

Opportunity landed on Mars on 24th January 2005, nearly five n half months after its launching on 7th July 2003."Oppy" is the name taken by its fans.

"The rover's mission clock is programmed to wake the computer so it can check power levels".

"Each observation of these large storms brings us closer to being able to model these events-and maybe, someday, being able to forecast them", Rich Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said in a statement. "We're anxious about it, of course". "It's like you have a loved one in a coma in the hospital".

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Still, Callas said the team was concerned about the aging rover as it faced this enormous storm, which could grow to fully envelop the planet in two to three more days.

This graphic shows the ongoing contributions of NASA's rovers and orbiters during a Martian dust storm that began on May 30, 2018.

For weeks, Mars has been besieged by a massive dust storm. The storm has blanketed 14 million square miles of Mars, or about a quarter of the planet, which is now inhabited only by active and inactive robots. The Curiosity Rover, which is now collecting rock samples on Mount Sharp, can measure temperatures in the lower atmosphere, as well as the storm's tau. However, the current storm is twice as opaque as the 2007 one, providing even less marginal sunlight. At most, it could endure for a month or two. The storm has been growing since the end of May with unprecedented speed. As long as the rover stays warm enough, it can endure. Mission scientists also wonder whether another storm could happen later. They can quickly balloon into regional storms, and sometimes expand to engulf the entire planet. But this one stalled out over the site. "Each offers a unique look at how dust storms form and behave - knowledge that will be essential for future robotic and human missions".

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"Due to an extreme amount of dust over Perseverance Valley, mission engineers believe it is unlikely the rover has enough sunlight to charge back up for at least the next several days", a Tuesday night NASA update explained.

"We're all pulling for Opportunity. But regardless of how this turns out, this little rover has proven to be an invaluable investment that has greatly increased our ability to explore the Red Planet". Its longevity has taught us much about operating on Mars. Besides Curiosity and Opportunity on the surface, a whopping six orbiters circle the red planet, gathering data for NASA, the European Space Agency, Russia's Roscosmos, and the Indian Space Research Organization.

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