NASA’s Opportunity rover falls silent

Latest news

    NASA experts have expressed concern over an unprecedented “massive Martian dust storm” that has engulfed the Opportunity rover mission.

    The storm covers an area as large as North America and Russia combined – a quarter of the surface of Mars – and has left the golf-cart-sized rover temporarily unable to conduct science operations. 

    The US space agency’s rover runs on solar power and has entered low power mode to conserve energy.

    Mission engineers believe it is unlikely the rover has enough sunlight to charge back up for at least the next several days, NASA said in a statement earlier this week.

    The first indicators of the storm were reported on May 30 and it is nearly circling the planet, NASA scientist Rich Zurek said on Wednesday in a conference call.

    The storm’s density was estimated at a record opacity level, of 10.8, said John Callas, project manager at NASA.

    This reading is about twice as dense as any other storm that Opportunity has endured since landing on Mars in 2004.

    It could also pose a threat to the Curiosity rover, which is monitoring the storm from the periphery. 

    Engineers are also concerned that freezing temperatures caused by the storm could damage the rover, as cold is thought to be what led to the breakdown of NASA’s Spirit rover – Opportunity’s twin – in 2010.

    WATCH: Is travel to Mars on the horizon?


    Opportunity is also known as MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover-B), and it was the second of the rovers launched on 2003, landing on January 25, 2004, three weeks after Spirit landed on the other side of the planet. 

    Spirit kept functioning until it got stuck in 2009 and stopped communications the next year. Each rover was designed to only last 90 days, yet Opportunity has exceeded its operating plan by 14 years and 48 days. 

    According to NASA since landing in Mars, the rover has made a number of discoveries about the Red Planet including showing evidence that long ago at least one area of Mars stayed wet for an extended period suggesting that conditions could have been favourable for sustaining microbial life. 

    The NASA team has used the rover more than 50 times longer than originally planned and it survived such a storm before in 2007. Opportunity has traveled a total of 45.09 kilometres. 

    View the original article:

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

    In the same category are

    Italy bridge: 39 dead as rescuers search for survivors Italian emergency workers pulled more bodies out of tons of broken concrete and twisted steel on Wednesday after a highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, ...
    A day in the life of a Tehran currency trader Since August 2017, Iran's rial has lost more than half its value Tehran, Iran - Reza, 27, wanted to work in a stock exchange firm, or in an insuran...
    Amid peace efforts, South Sudan arrests activist Peter Biar Ajak Ajak was one of at least 20,000 children who were dubbed the 'lost boys' of Sudan after they were separated from their families during the country's ...
    South Korea plans to build ‘railway community’ in Asia President Moon proposed the plan during a speech marking the Koreas' independence from Japanese colonial rule President Moon Jae-in proposed connec...
    How could Turkey overcome its currency woes? Not long ago it would have been deemed inconceivable to see Turkey, a long-standing US ally and staunch member of NATO, in the list of countries that ...
    India plans to launch first manned space mission by 2022 Modi made the announcement during a speech marking the country's independence day Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the country will at...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.