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NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars didn’t return a name from Earth yesterday (June 12) while enduring a massive dust storm that scientists have referred to as “one of the most intense ever observed.”
“The Martian dust storm that has blotted out the sun above Opportunity has continued to intensify,” NASA officers wrote in a mission update Tuesday. “The storm, which was first detected on May 30, now blankets 14 million square miles (35 million square kilometers) of Martian surface — a quarter of the planet.” That means Opportunity’s photo voltaic panels don’t get sufficient daylight to cellphone dwelling from its Perseverance Valley location on Mars.
Opportunity’s failure to answer to a sign from its mission operations heart at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is an indication the rover has entered a “low power fault mode” by which all of the rover’s programs shut down aside from a mission clock. That clock is programmed to get up the rover periodically and examine its energy ranges to see if it could possibly name dwelling. [The Greatest Mars Discoveries by Opportunity & Spirit]
“If the rover’s computer determines that its batteries don’t have enough charge, it will again put itself back to sleep,” NASA officers mentioned. “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.”
The dust storm was first noticed on May 30 by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and it has been rising ever since. NASA has continued to trace the storm from orbit and the floor. In addition to Opportunity, the Mars rover Curiosity is monitoring dust levels from the storm.
Scientists assume the facility degree in Opportunity’s batteries is beneath 24 volts. If the rover loses energy for an prolonged period of time, there’s a likelihood it will not be capable to energy the warmers wanted to maintain its electronics alive. The excessive chilly of Mars is considered what killed Opportunity’s twin, the Spirit rover, after it bought caught in Martian sand in 2010.
Opportunity has seen its share of dust storms on Mars.
In 2007, a planetwide dust storm blotted out the sun for two weeks. Opportunity went silent throughout that storm, too, however survived. The practically 15-year-old rover launched in 2003 and has been exploring Mars because it landed in January 2004. Opportunity has lasted greater than 50 instances longer than its unique 90-day mission plan, NASA officers have mentioned.
NASA will maintain a teleconference as we speak at 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) to debate the Martian dust storm, its influence on Opportunity and the way scientists are monitoring it with spacecraft in orbit. You can watch that news briefing live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.