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Update: Mars Rovers Braving Severe Dust Storms

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Artist's Concept of Rover on Mars
Artist's Concept of Rover on Mars (credit: Maas Digital LLC)

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity sent signals Monday morning, July 23, indicating its power situation improved slightly during the days when it obeyed commands to refrain from communicating with Earth in order to conserve power.

Dust storms on Mars in recent weeks have darkened skies over both Opportunity and its twin, Spirit. Last week Opportunity was commanded to go into a very low-power state and to communicate only once every three days. Next scheduled transmission will be Thursday, July 26, though controllers may command Opportunity to send information on Tuesday, July 24. "The outlook for both Opportunity and Spirit depends on the weather, which makes it unpredictable, " said JPL's John Callas, project manager for both rovers. "If the weather holds where it is now or gets better, the rovers will be OK. If it gets worse, the situation becomes more complex ".

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Dust Storm Affects Mars Rovers

Friday, July 6, 2007

NASA - A giant dust storm brewing for more than a week on Mars has become worse and is affecting surface operations of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Because the rovers depend on solar energy for survival, and the dust is partially blocking the sun, the storm is being watched closely by the rover scientists and engineers. Opportunity's entry into Victoria Crater is delayed for at least several days.

The storm, the most severe storm yet to hit the rovers, is expected to continue for at least another week. Opportunity is perched near "Duck Bay" as it readies to descend into Victoria Crater, but operations were scaled back on Saturday, June 30, to conserve power.


More: NASA - Dust Delays Mars Crater Entry