A massive dust storm which had hit Mars recently has knocked out Opportunity. On Wednesday some officials said they expect that rover will be able to survive this storm. The dust storm had already covered a significant portion of Mars which is almost its one quarter. It can take weeks or months for the sky to get clear. Till then it is difficult to recharge Opportunity’s batteries as enough sunlight cannot reach to the Martian surface. Opportunity recharges its batteries by making use of its solar panels.
Opportunity is among the oldest rover on Mars, and it has stopped working because of the massive storm.
Project manager of Opportunity at NASA said that this storm might have its harmful effects and we have no idea for how much time more it will last. Also, it is not clear how the environment will be like after it clears.
On Tuesday late night, some flight controllers attempted to contact with Opportunity, however, unfortunately, they didn’t receive any response. Also since the end of the May, this storm is growing at a breakneck speed.
Opportunity and Spirit are twin rovers which were launched by NASA in 2003. The mission of starting them was to get information about Martian rock and soil and further explore that information to know about them in detail. Spirit didn’t work for many years, and its performance was not satisfactory. However, on the other hand, Opportunity performed exceptionally well. Even after its expected service time it continued to perform well and provided with useful information.
The primary concern of scientist at present is not that Opportunity will be of no use and will get stuck in the dust because this will never happen. Opportunity will survive this storm, but what they are worried about is that its optical instruments may completely get covered with dust.
Officials told that the batteries of Opportunity have reached to the point of the shallow level. One clock is still working in it which facilitates periodic level checks in the spacecraft. If in case somehow this clock also stops working and goes offline, then rover won’t be able to get information regarding time, and it can send signals at any time when it is active again.
This is not the first time Opportunity is dealing with a massive storm of Mars. Earlier in 2007 as well once a dust storm had hit on Mars because of which Opportunity was unable to work for some days.