NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity on Martian dust storms

NASA’s, ‘Curiosity rover’, uninterrupted and actively, receiving electricity from radioactive sources, continues its scientific crusade even when a dense layer of dust that on the other side of the planet continues to famish the aging ‘Opportunity rover.’ 

The plutonium-powered Curiosity has witnessed an all-encompassing dust storm on Mars. Even though the conditions on Mars are harsh, Curiosity has successfully sent some images recently. The photos reveal the orange haze interrupting the view of the distant ridges. In August 2012, Curiosity rover was sent to Mars to study Martian geology is now acting as a research outpost monitoring weather changes. 

The planet red's other side where the ‘Opportunity rover’ runs using solar power has a different story to tell. As per the engineers, Opportunity went into sleep mode. Possibly, it’s low on energy as its batteries are not adequately charged. The interesting part in its designing the master clock that helps wake the rover up round-the-clock. The clock also sets new time for another battery check. In case the power levels are plunged too low, the clock stops working. For this, the onboard software is programmed to switch on Opportunity’s computer automatically as the batteries get fully charged and determine to see when the sun shines in the sky to send a signal to Earth. The eight isotopes heaters of Opportunity help keeping the internal electronic components from getting cold. Though until the sky gets transparent, Opportunity would not hear from the engineers, but the engineers can listen to the rover each day. It landed on Mars on Jan 25, 2004. It has navigated more than 28 miles, visiting craters across a broad plain named Meridiani Planum. 

The storm has wholly concealed the surface of the planet, it has scattered and looks patchy and hardly gives any sign of clearing. Curiosity has measured the thickest haze that blocked the sunlight. On the contrary, Opportunity has measured an even more thick fog earlier this month. It is of vital significance to note that Martian dust storms can remain active for weeks and some time for months. NASA’s international partners, India and Europe, have the largest fleet of spacecraft at Mars. The overall scenario of these dust storms on Martian planet can help scientists forecast these events just like predicting El Nino or any hurricane on Earth. Further, the information collected through the present dust storms can help scientists predict future events.