A huge dust storm has blanketed about a quarter of the surface of Mars. The storm has plunged NASA’s Opportunity rover, which is solar-powered, into what NASA has described as a “dark, perpetual night.” The rover’s primary energy source is obscured by the storm, so it appears to have gone into a power-saving mode, and will remain that way, until the sun re-emerges. It is currently located in the Perseverance Valley of Mars near the center of the storm.
The Martian dust storm blotting out the sun above Opportunity has continued to intensify. It blankets a quarter of the planet. All rover subsystems are off, except a mission clock, programmed to wake the computer to check power levels. Full status report: https://t.co/VwuuPwEpPA pic.twitter.com/rQvHDsxuQj
— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) June 13, 2018
“We’re concerned, but we’re hopeful that the storm will clear and the rover will begin to communicate with us,” John Callas, the Opportunity project manager, told reporters on a Wednesday conference call with other NASA officials, according to The New York Times.
The storm is one of the most intense ever observed on Mars. It covers an area nearly the size of North America and South America combined and could encompass the planet in just a few days, as the storm in 2007 and another in 2001 did, according to The Times.
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