NASA’s Opportunity rover has just encountered a massive dust storm on Mars and it could prevent it from contacting Earth in the future
The storm that the Opportunity rover is currently going through on the Red Planet is so severe that the dust is blocking out the light coming from the Sun, making it hard for the rover to charge its solar panels that powers the internal battery.
Currently, NASA’s engineers are waiting to see if the rover can survive the storm and still function once it settles.
However, the good news is that Opportunity is a hardy space bot and has lasted for more than 14 years on Mars, which is much longer than the three-month mission that was initially planned. Even more, the rover survived another dust storm back in 2007, which makes engineers hope for the best and trust that it will survive this just as well.
On the other hand, the storm back in 2007 was far from being as severe as this one, which is the only thing that drags down engineers’ hope. This storm came as a surprise, as it formed right above the rover on June 3rd and it quickly strengthened.
The storm is so dusty that the skies on Mars are darker than ever, almost turning daytime into night.
NASA did not leave Opportunity on its own: to combat the storm, all science activities on the rover were stopped and its instruments were shut down. All that the rover needs to do now is recharge as much as it can and wake up to communicate with our planet. So far, it appears that it does have the energy power to do the basics.