Massive Dust Storm Threatens Mars Rover

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In 2020, the next big mission will be launched, which will be able to send "pinkie-sized samples of Mars" back to by analyzed in laboratories on Earth. This included Perseverance Valley or the site where Opportunity had been conducting science operations. In 2007, the rover rode out a similar storm that lasted for two weeks. The map demonstrated the rising storm with a blue point depicting the location of the Opportunity rover. Additional information has been requested from the rover via the global system of antennas that talks to all the agency's deep space probes, the Deep Space Network.

We'd have to get used to dust storms. The same swirling dust that blocks out sunlight also absorbs heat, raising the ambient temperature surrounding Opportunity.

Despite limited sunlight to charge its battery, Opportunity also needs to deal with sub-freezing temperatures on Mars. Originally, its mission was only supposed to last 90 days.

On the same day when red-clad fans of the Washington Capitals hockey team - shouting "rock the red" - finally saw their long journey for a National Hockey league title come to fruition, scientists at NASA and elsewhere revealed a discovery on Mars that possibly moved them forward to one of their long time. seemingly unattainable quests.

A massive dust storm on Mars was observed from the orbit by the NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, as reported by the NASA engineers.

As the rover team prepared the contingency plan to deal with the situation, the storm grew more intense than expected. "In a matter of days, the storm had ballooned".

Scientists gauge the strength of a dust storm using the unit tau, a measurement of the atmosphere's opacity.

The space agency says the current storm has an opacity level of 10.8, and that 2007's severe dust storm had a 5.5. The rover has now been shifted to minimal operations in a bid to conserve energy, while still providing just enough electricity to run its heaters. The project's management prepared for the possibility that Opportunity couldn't balance low levels of power with its energy-intensive survival heaters, which protect its batteries from Mars' extreme cold.

NASA said, "There is a threat to Opportunity if the tempest continues for too long and rover gets freeze while lingering for the skies to clear".

Having said that, scientists hope that Opportunity can sustain the Martian dust storm because it has seen worst days.

Top speed of the vehicle is 50 mm/second (0.18 km/h), and in the time it spent on Mars in managed to travel only 45 kilometers (28 miles), unofficially becoming the single slowest, most expensive self-propelled vehicle.