A massive dust storm is wrapping around Mars. The wind was of the size of North America, and it completely blocked the sun. The skies look like night during the daytime because of the storm the visibility became so weak. It was a tough situation for NASA’s Opportunity rover when the storm occurs as the rover was in the middle of something crucial martian roving. Therefore the Opportunity rover uses solar power to tour the red planet .on June 10 The 15-year-old rover fell asleep, to conserve power hoping the storm to stop and sunlight can reach its panels.
“This is the worst storm Opportunity has ever seen, and we’re doing what we can, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best,” Steve Squyres, a planetary scientist at Cornell University and leader of the rover mission, told A.J.S. Rayl for a recent Planetary Society blog post.
According to the scientists, the storm may last weeks. To keep the electronic circuits warm if Opportunity rover uses it energy reserves then fiery cold red planet temperature will disable them.
As it is solar powered, Opportunity needs sunlight to communicate with NASA NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. This is a horror condition for Opportunity until the storm stops and it can finally recharge its energy. The martian nights are very cold sometimes it is -100F. Opportunity rover batteries are protected by survival heaters, but it may use a lot of energy by running them for a long time. JBL had seen before these conditions, when Opportunity twin, Spirit was damaged by cold in 2010.
But Opportunity has witnessed a lot of number of dust storms since 14 years exploring Mars. Also in 2007 rover was sent to minimal energy but hopefully it survived.
JPL researcher David Kass, PhD for its current woes. In January, Kass, who has been studying the role of dust storms in Mars’ changing climate, said in a statement: “It would be great to have a global dust storm we could observe with all the assets now at Mars, and that could happen this year.” Here’s hoping that the brave, resilient rover, which has survived 14 years longer than it was expected to, continues to defy expectations — and that NASA scientists be a little more careful about what they wish for.
But the storm conditions aren’t same in all around the planet. The storm is not dangerous for curiosity which is a car-size rover, nuclear powered. NASA landed it on mars in 2012. Curiosity rover doesn’t use solar cells just like Opportunity; it uses plutonium 238 to power itself for exploring the red planet. So darkness is not a problem for it.
On Friday curiosity photographed itself during the storm.
The image is taken from an instrument called the Mars Hand Lens Imager. The camera can function like a multi-million-dollar selfie stick, and it sits on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm.
As the camera was not able to capture all of the Curiosity photos in one shot, it takes a series of photos- the images are more than 200. On Saturday Kevin M. Gill, a NASA software engineer, who processes spacecraft photos, stitched all the images into a single paranoma.
Curiosity surroundings are also shown in the paranomic selfie; it also includes a picture of a rock with a drill hole in it and a pile of dust orange in colour.
After looking at photos taken by rover the channel’s creator and narrator Tyler Glockner ask “Has NASA once again slipped up and let evidence of potential alien life reach the public in a new set of photographs captured on Mars by the rover?”
According to Glockner, the blur looks like “an object moving extremely quickly” and shows up in two separate photos, which means it “isn’t a piece of sand or something on the lens.”
set of photographs captured on Mars by the rover?”
on December 2016 curiosity drill was taken offline because it was suffering from a mechanical problem.
But in May 2018 NASA tested the drill and eventually found out a way to solve the problem. After this, a two-inch deep hole was bored into curiosity, then dropped some fresh martian grit on the ground to see how much dirt it will collect for sampling. It was all part of the test
Scientists are hoping to gather more clues to see how such strong dust storms will occur and dissipate on the red planet by using rovers like Opportunity, Curiosity and also other three satellites in orbit around the mars.
The last dust storm arose on the surface of Mars in 2007, But at the time there were not as many spacecraft as they are now. Now NASA is concerned about the future of Opportunity rover, as scientists have waited for more than a decade for this kind of dust storm to happen so that they can study it.
“This is the ideal storm for Mars science,” Jim Watzin, the director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, said in a press release. “We have a historic number of spacecraft operating at the red planet. Each offers a unique look at how dust storms form and behave — knowledge that will be essential for future robotic and human missions.”
The last time NASA informed the public about Curiosity rover when it was sitting to the edge of a massive dust storm, the storm had grown to the size of Russia and North America combined.
NASA future missions to Mars
Recently NASA has launched Insight Mars Lander; it would touch the surface by the time of November 26. The next mission is 2020 rover, it is almost similar to curiosity, but it can be a better option to search for signs of past alien life and prepare a sample for return to Earth.
NASA is also looking forward to its giant Space Launch System, and one of its planned versions might send a small crew of members on Mars. Also, some private companies are hoping to explore the red planet. SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, may send people to Mars in the mid -2020 in combination with its upcoming Big Falcon Rocket system Blue Origin, it is owned by Jeff Bezos, who is designing a New Glenn rocket that may be capable of surviving on Mars.
If any of these can able to send people on the red planet in relative safety, experts say it will be no walk in the park. Crews will face threats from explosions, radiation, starvation, and other dangers.
If NASA became a success to master a small-scale nuclear reactor for space, future martian crews would not have to worry about dust storms which threaten their power supply