Mars Opportunity rover halts science operations during cold dust storm
Opportunity rover postpones its activity as dust storms and cold conditions hinder battery recharge and power abilities.

Leah Williams | 4 hours ago

NASA announced on Friday the suspension of science operations for the Opportunity rover as a larger dust storm passes.

Researchers released a global map of Mars captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June 6. It exhibits the growing dust storm and a blue dot indicating the rover's approximate location.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter first recognized the storm developing back on June 1. The MRO team warned the Opportunity team to get ready for the blast. The storm quickly grew to cover over 7 million square miles and swept across Perseverance Valley where Opportunity is located.

Opportunity's solar panels are negatively impacted by the funnels of dust, which it uses to recharge its batteries and power the heaters that allow the rover to function in extremely cold conditions of Mars. NASA says the dust storm's effect is "comparable to an extremely smoggy day that blots out sunlight."

Additionally, the Curiosity rover team is also keeping close observation on the dust storm, although it is located in the Gale Crater on the other side of the planet.

"We expect that even if the storm dissipates before becoming a global dust storm, that the amount of dust in Gale will increase over the next several days," Curiosity team member Scott Guzewich wrote in an update last week.

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