By Gage Simpson, Owner Of New Frontier News
Thursday, June 14, 2018
(NEW FRONTIER NEWS)- Scientists are concerned as Opportunity goes silent in what has been described as the most intense storm ever observed on the red planet.
Opportunity has been through many dust storms throughout its 14 years exploring, but this storm is different. The storm which started May 14 is expected to cover the whole planet sometime around June 16-17 and it could last a month.
The rover won’t be damaged by the actual dust, but because it can not generate electricity from its solar panels its heater can not be kept on. This can cause internal damage and may permanently disable it if the temperature stays too cold for too long.
Many of the scientists and engineers at NASA have an emotional attachment to the aging rover.
“The analogy I would use right now is it’s like you have a loved one in a coma in the hospital,” John Callas, project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said. “The doctors are telling you that you’ve just got to give it time and she’ll wake up, all the vital signs are good, so it’s just waiting it out — but you know, if it’s your 97-year-old grandmother you’re going to be very concerned. And we are.”
Opportunity was launched in 2003 and landed in 2004. It was launched with a twin, Spirit, who failed to operate after 2010 from what scientists think failed after a dust storm kept the rover from charging causing its hardware to freeze.
NASA’s other rover, Curiosity, should be fine, as it runs off nuclear power over solar power.
Domonoske, Camila. (June 2018). Enormous Dust Storm On Mars Threatens The Opportunity Rover. NPR. The United States. https://www.npr.org/2018/06/13/619573721/enormous-dust-storm-on-mars-threatens-the-opportunity-rover
Malik, Tariq. (June 2018). As Massive Dust Storm Rages on Mars, Opportunity Rover Falls Silent. Space.com. The United States. https://www.space.com/40873-mars-dust-storm-opportunity-falls-silent.html
Rice, Doyle. (June 2018). NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars silenced by intense dust storm. Scientists are ‘very concerned’. USAToday. The United States. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/06/13/mars-rover-opportunity-dust-storm/698678002/