NASA rover is threatened by a huge sandstorm on Mars

  • NASA rover is threatened by a huge sandstorm on Mars

NASA rover is threatened by a huge sandstorm on Mars

Nasa launched the twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit in 2003 to study Martian rocks and soil, and they landed in 2004.

An unprecedented sandstorm on Mars is threatening the survival of NASA's solar-powered Opportunity rover, the USA space agency has announced.

The clock will regularly wake an onboard computer to check power levels. As stated by John Callas of the NASA JPL in Pasadena, California, "we are anxious, but we hope the storm will break and the rover will communicate with us again". "We're anxious about it, of course. We are listening every day for possible signals from the rover", he said, likening the atmosphere among colleagues to having a loved one lying in a coma.

Maxwell, who left NASA in 2013 for Google, notes in the spirit of anthropomorphizing common to those involved with rovers, "She did more than anyone expected from her or ever could have expected from her, and if we can all say that at the end of our lives, then we'll be as lucky as she is".

And there isn't any danger of the rover being buried by dust, although clearing it off once the storm subsides may be another challenge. According to Seibert may dust particles will damage the lens of Opportunity, when the storm is over. The Curiosity Rover, which is now collecting rock samples on Mount Sharp, can measure temperatures in the lower atmosphere, as well as the storm's tau.

Meanwhile, "we're all pulling for Opportunity", Mars Exploration Program director Jim Watzin said.

This current storm is "unprecedented in the pace at which it has grown and spread across the globe", said Rich Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Exploration Rover mission; the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover; the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project; and the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Mission scientists also wonder whether another storm could happen later. Occasionally, they can balloon into regional storms in a matter of days, and sometimes even expand until they envelop the planet. But this one stalled out over the site. "Knowing and understanding how these storms behave ahead of more ambitious missions, it is essential that we learn to monitor and predict storms. But regardless of how this turns out, this little rover has proven to be an invaluable investment that has greatly increased our ability to explore the Red Planet".

Cold, desolate Mars, with its thin atmosphere and desert conditions, is prone to dust storms that can last months.