This series of simulated images shows the darkening of the sky and dimming Sun due to the dust storm at the Opportunity rover’s location on Mars. The right side is the rover’s current view. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / TAMU
NASA’s long-lived Opportunity rover is currently weathering a massive dust storm—the largest the solar-powered rover has had to endure in its nearly 15 years of surface operations. The vehicle has been operating in Meridiani Planum since January 2004.
The dust storm was first detected by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on May 30, 2018, according to NASA, and is now covering more than a quarter of the planet—some 14-million square miles (35-million square kilometers)—and is expected to go global within days. Engineer’s at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were unable to contact Opportunity on June 12, 2018, prompting controllers to assume the golf cart-sized rover is now in a low power fault mode.
“There’s a severe dust storm on Mars that’s threatening Opportunity. As a result the rover has fallen asleep and is waiting out the storm,” said John Callas, Opportunity’s project manager, during a media teleconference about the dust storm. “The project team is very concerned. We’re ...