Massive dust storm on Mars suspends NASA's Opportunity rover from science work

Updated 2018-06-11 15:44:01 Xinhua

An enormous dust storm on Mars has suspended NASA's exploration rover Opportunity from conducting scientific work, the U.S. space agency said Sunday in a statement.

A global map of Mars released by NASA shows a growing dust storm that has blanketed the surface of the red planet in yellow and orange as of last Wednesday.

"Full dust storms like this one are not surprising, but are infrequent," said the statement.

The dust storm was first detected by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June 1. In a matter of days, the storm had ballooned and covered more than 18 million square km, an area greater than North America, the statement added.

Science operations remain suspended, NASA engineers said, adding that they will monitor the rover's power levels closely in the week to come.

To the delight of the engineers, they received a transmission from Opportunity on Sunday morning, a positive sign that the rover still has enough battery to communicate with ground controllers.

This is not Opportunity's first time to survive in bad weather. Another dust storm in 2007 forced the rover to hunker down for two weeks in a survival mode of minimal operations.

According to NASA, the previous storm had an opacity level somewhere above 5.5, while the ongoing storm had an estimated opacity level of 10.8 as of Sunday morning.

Despite limited sunlight to charge its battery, Opportunity also needs to deal with sub-freezing temperatures on Mars. The latest data transmission showed the rover's temperature is about minus 29 degrees Celsius.

Opportunity, launched in 2003 as part of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover program, has far exceeded scientists' expectations by operating for nearly 15 years. It was initially designed for just a 90-day mission.

Also in the News

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time
Showbiz2016/06/16 13:58November 14 2018 14:25:38

Nicole Kidman Recalls Oscar Glory: Loneliest Time

Attending Shanghai International Film Festival, Nicole Kidman talks about her role in "Grace of Monaco".

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts
Also in the News2014/05/01 12:16November 14 2018 14:25:38

Labor Day Travel Peak Starts

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'
Also in the News2014/04/18 13:18November 14 2018 14:25:38

Johnny Depp Delivers a Speech 'Evolve the Future' in 'Transcendence'

Hollywood star Johnny Depp's speech in the upcoming new film "Transcendence" has been disclosed on Friday, April 11th.

News:
China World Business Sports Showbiz Audio
Video:
C4 My Chinese Life The Sound Stage China Revealed Showbiz Video Travel Video
Photos:
China World Fun Travel Entertainment Sports
Travel:
Beijing Shanghai Guangzhou
Lifestyle:
Live Music Opera & Classical Movies Traditional Shows Exhibitions
Learn Chinese:
Chinese Studio Living Chinese Everyday Chinese Just For Fun Chinese Culture Buzzwords