In June 2018, scientists have observed a global dust storm on Mars, which has become one of the largest in the entire history of observations. The storm began in the Valley of Perseverance and in less than a week covered an area of 18 million km2. Scientists had hoped that the effects of dust storm on Mars does not affect the operation of Mars Rovers opportunity and Curiosity, but it had gotten to them. To date, the disaster has already covered a quarter of the total surface of Mars is not going to subside. As a result, had to suspend the Martian champion – the Mars Rover opportunity, and the other Martian robotic inhabitants are translated into a special mode.
What designed the Mars Rovers NASA
Dust storms on the red planet is considered a common phenomenon that is taken into account when designing any of the Rover. The Rover opportunity, which was delivered to Mars in early 2004, was also well prepared, despite the fact that the power of its elements by solar panels. Settling on their surface, Martian dust significantly reduces the production of electricity, so scientists hoped that the Rover opportunity will last only a few weeks. It was at first, and after the warranty period, the Rover went into sleep mode. However, it soon blew a strong wind, which suddenly cleared the surface of the solar panels, which gave the opportunity to continue the work of the opportunity Rover on Mars.
In the end, at the moment, the Rover opportunity is already more than 55 times higher than the warranty period. The wind regularly clean the surface of solar panels, allowing the apparatus to resume the work again and again. But now scientists are worried more than usual. The current dust storm is one of the largest for all time of stay opportunity on Mars. Now the opacity of the Martian atmosphere on average twice the usual indicators, resulting in the solar panels of the Rover can be discharged to a critical level. The energy required for the apparatus not only to continue but also to maintain optimum internal temperature, which is achieved by a special heating system. If battery power is not enough, and the storm will continue to rage on, the Rover opportunity may repeat the fate of the other machine – Spirit, which was unable to resume work due to the reduction of the internal temperature to a critical level at -50 °C.
Another NASA’s Mars Rover “Curiosity” is on the opposite side of the red planet, but the dust storm on Mars and got to it. This Rover makes scientists less fear, since his power is not from solar panels, and special radioisotope thermoelectric generator. Dust it is not too terrible, so the unit continues to maintain contact with the Ground and recently even sent a selfie, specially made by him during the revelry. Data from this and other spacecraft show that the opacity of the atmosphere, which has already reached 10.8 Tau (a measure of the level of blocking of sunlight because of dust) continues to increase. Therefore, to talk about the end of the storm it is not necessary.
However, the storm opens scientists the additional opportunity to study Martian weather conditions. Climatologists from the science mission of Curiosity are planning to explore behavior of the Martian dust from the surface of the planet during such global disasters. In addition, scientists still don’t know why some storms on Mars subside for a few days, while others last for months. And we only have to wait for the results of their research and hoped that communication with the most successful Mars Rover opportunity has been on Mars for almost 15 years, will be restored.