Sandstorm that stopped the Rover Opportunity has covered almost the entire Red Planet.
Over the past two weeks a huge sand storm that erupted on Mars where NASA put the Rover Opportunity into sleep mode increased so that it now covers almost the entire Mars in a circle, enveloping the planet “fur coat”, very slightly pervious to sunlight. Note that the Rover Curiosity, powered by built-in nuclear thermoelectric generator, as well was feeling the effects of this storm, but he remains able to observe the environment and transmit data to Earth on this large-scale phenomenon.
Over the past few days the amount of dust deposited on the surface of the body of the Rover Curiosity, has increased almost twice. We can assume that in the case of the Mars Rover Opportunity, located at a distance of 8,200 km from Curiosity, the situation is not much better, and even worse, which is cause for concern mission specialists.
The density of sand fog in the Gale crater where the Curiosity Rover is 8.0 units (Tau), and the place where Opportunity is now even more “dark”, the density of the fog there is 11 Tau. Despite the fact that lowering the level of lighting requires longer exposures when shooting, the Curiosity Rover managed to make a series of pictures, even though it compromises the optical system cameras.
Fortunately for us, such a sand storm surrounding the entire planet, can not be formed on the Ground due to the thick and dense atmosphere of our planet, the force of gravity, a sufficiently large number of water surfaces and surfaces covered with vegetation. However, on Mars, where the vast majority of these constraints, not as a class, sandstorms are quite frequent phenomenon, especially during spring and summer in the southern hemisphere, when Mars is as close as possible to the Sun. Frozen in the polar regions carbon dioxide evaporates, which leads to thickening of the planet’s atmosphere and increase the pressure on the surface. This, plus some other factors raised in the air, clouds of dust, the height of which sometimes can reach 60 kilometers.
The sand storms on Mars last for a few weeks, and some storms can rage for several years. The main factors that ensure the continued existence of these phenomena is still not fully known to our scientists. Note that the current sand storm is not yet the strongest, the strongest is storm of 2007, which scientists continue to study today. In this light, the data that is now collecting Curiosity Rover, complementing the existing array of information and, thanks to them, scientists will be able to find answers to some of their questions.
In conclusion, we note that Mars is the only planet in the Solar system which periodically “storm”. In 2013, astronomers discovered a giant, illuminated by lightning storm on Saturn, which captured a continuous ring all this gas giant planet. The length of this storm was 300 thousand kilometers, which is a lot compared to the current Martian storm, whose length is about 21 thousand kilometers.