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Huge Dust Storm on Mars Hits NASA’s Opportunity Rover

A large dirt charge on Mars has sidelined NASA’s Opportunity rover, stalling a robot’s scholarship work as it waits out a still-growing tempest.

The Martian dirt charge was initial speckled from space by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA officials said.

“As shortly as a orbiter group saw how tighten a charge was to Opportunity, they told a rover’s group to start scheming strait plans,” NASA officials pronounced in a statement. “In a matter of days, a charge had ballooned.” [The Greatest Mars Discoveries by Opportunity Spirit]

As of Friday (June 8), a charge covers some-more than 7 million block miles of Mars (18 million block kilometers), according to NASA. That’s an area incomparable than all of North America on Earth.

“Full dirt storms like this one are not surprising, though are infrequent,” NASA officials said in a statement. “They can stand adult unexpected though final weeks, even months.”

The area blanketed by a dirt charge includes Perseverance Valley, Opportunity’s stream home on a immeasurable Martian plains of Meridiani Planum.

Opportunity has been exploring Mars given 2004, though it runs on solar power. With a dirt charge clogging adult a sky, a volume of object a corsair can use to recharge has dropped. NASA compared a conditions to “an intensely smoggy day that blots out sunlight.”

By Wednesday (June 6), Opportunity’s energy levels saw a critical drop, forcing a corsair to stop all scholarship to preserve power. If a charge lasts too long, a categorical regard will be a Martian cold, a risk Opportunity has faced in a past, NASA officials said.

“There is a risk to a corsair if a charge persists for too prolonged and Opportunity gets too cold while watchful for a skies to clear,” NASA wrote in a statement. Cold is suspicion to be what killed NASA’s Spirit rover, Opportunity’s twin, in 2010 after that drudge got stranded in a Martian sand.

But Opportunity is a survivor. And it’s seen dirt storms bigger than a one it’s experiencing now.

A self-portrait of NASA's Opportunity corsair on Mars taken by a Microscopic Imager on a rover's robotic arm to applaud a 5,000th Martian day in Feb 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In 2007, a dirt charge on Mars lonesome a whole planet and forced Opportunity to seat down for dual weeks in a arrange of survival-mode of minimal operations. To save power, a corsair went days but phoning home to a controllers during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

It was during that 2007 charge that Opportunity’s handlers disturbed about a rover’s ability to energy a critical presence heaters with a low energy levels caused by that dirt storm. But Opportunity survived.

In fact, Opportunity has been flourishing for 15 years.

The corsair (and a twin Spirit) launched alone to Mars in 2003 and landed in Jan 2004 for what was creatively scheduled to be a 90-day mission. But like a dirt charge now battering Opportunity, a rover’s goal ballooned from 3 months to 15 years, 14 of them on a Martian surface.

Email Tariq Malik during tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+. Original essay on Space.com.

Article source: https://www.space.com/40847-mars-dust-storm-stalls-opportunity-rover.html