Over the last few months, a global dust storm has been raging across the surface of Mars. It started at the end of May and is only now beginning to clear up. It’s been suggested that this was one of the worst storms we’ve ever observed on the Red Planet
The Good News
If you’re worried about the Curiosity rover, don’t be. The rover’s just kept on roving, and sciencing, and recently it sent back this selfie to let us know everything’s a-okay.
Just kidding. Here’s a link to the actual “selfie” Curiosity sent back. It’s an interactive 360-degree panoramic thing, so click the image and drag it around to get the full experience.
The Bad News
While Curiosity seems totally unfazed by the bad weather, things are not looking so good for NASA’s other rover, Opportunity. It’s too early for a eulogy, but based on what it says in this press release from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we should be prepared for the worst.
NASA lost contact with Opportunity in early June, shortly after the storm began. Unlike Curiosity, which runs on nuclear batteries, Opportunity depends on solar panels for energy. So the problem may simply be that Opportunity wasn’t getting enough sunlight during the storm.
Or it could be that something more serious has happened to the almost fifteen-year-old rover. In the press release, Opportunity’s project manager is quoted saying: “If we do not hear back after 45 days, the team will be forced to conclude that the Sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold have conspired to cause some type of fault from which the rover will more than likely not recover.”
So fingers crossed….