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article imageOpportunity rover set to wake up as Mars dust storm wanes

By Tim Sandle     Sep 1, 2018 in Science
The giant dust storm that has encircled Mars is beginning to slowdown and signs are it will soon disappear. This will allow NASA’s solar-powered Opportunity rover to come out of hibernation mode - assuming it still works.
NASA scientists are hopeful that the prolonged hibernation for the Opportunity rover has not led to a system malfunction or that the planet-encircling dust storm has not irreparably damaged the sophisticated craft. The dust storm has been on-going for sometime (around the end of May 2018), as Digital Journal's Karen Graham reported in June 2018: "A massive dust storm on Mars that covered one-fourth of the planet...has grown into a global weather event."
Opportunity does a self-portrait
Opportunity does a self-portrait
Stalled in Perseverance Valley, the rover went into shutdown partly to protect itself from the dust storm and also because its power source as about to disappear. Being solar powered, the craft was about to enter a period of time during which it would not be able to detect any sunlight at all. The storm did not affect NASA's Curiosity rover, because the second craft is nuclear powered.
Opportunity rover (MER-B or Mars Exploration Rover – B) is a robotic rover active on Mars since 2004. The rover has been active for far longer than its design specification - 5535 sols since landing, as of September 1, 2018. The objective of the rover is to move gradually and to make scientific observations. In the 14 Earth years that it has been on the Martian surface, the rover has covered over had traveled 45.09 kilometers.
An artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young plan...
An artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometers.
ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger (
Now with indications that the Martian storm is abating, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will soon start the process of reviving the six-wheeled rover in the hope that it remains operational. According to John Callas, Opportunity project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: "The sun is breaking through the haze over Perseverance Valley, and soon there will be enough sunlight present that Opportunity should be able to recharge its batteries."
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