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Topic: NASA’s Opportunity Rover

Mars Dust Storms begin to dissipate around NASA’s Opportunity Rover

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A planet-encircling dust storm on Mars, which was first detected May 30th, 2018 and halted operations for the Opportunity rover, continues to abate.

With clearing skies over Opportunity’s resting spot in Mars’ Perseverance Valley, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, believe the nearly 15-year-old, solar-powered rover will soon receive enough sunlight to automatically initiate recovery procedures — if the rover is able to do so. To prepare, the Opportunity mission team has developed a two-step plan to provide the highest probability of successfully communicating with the rover and bringing it back online.

About 11 months before the current dust storm enveloped the rover, Opportunity took five images that were turned into a mosaic showing a view from inside the upper end of "Perseverance Valley" on the inner slope of Endeavour Crater's western rim. The images were taken on July 7th, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

About 11 months before the current dust storm enveloped the rover, Opportunity took five images that were turned into a mosaic showing a view from inside the upper end of “Perseverance Valley” on the inner slope of Endeavour Crater’s western rim. The images were taken on July 7th, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA begins Mars Opportunity Rover recovery

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10th, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is “decaying” — meaning more dust is falling out of the atmosphere than is being raised back into it — skies might soon clear enough for the solar-powered rover to recharge and attempt to “phone home.”

No one will know how the rover is doing until it speaks. But the team notes there’s reason to be optimistic: They’ve performed several studies on the state of its batteries before the storm, and temperatures at its location.

Side-by-side images shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Side-by-side images shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Orbiters observe Dust Storm on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Storm chasing takes luck and patience on Earth — and even more so on Mars.

For scientists watching the Red Planet from data gathered by NASA’s orbiters, the past month has been a windfall. “Global” dust storms, where a runaway series of storms creates a dust cloud so large it envelops the planet, only appear every six to eight years (that’s three to four Mars years). Scientists still don’t understand why or how exactly these storms form and evolve.

In June, one of these dust events rapidly engulfed the planet. Scientists first observed a smaller-scale dust storm on May 30th. By June 20th, it had gone global.

Side-by-side movies shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Side-by-side movies shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover takes images of Haze from Martian Dust Storm

 

Written by Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A storm of tiny dust particles has engulfed much of Mars over the last two weeks and prompted NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations.

But across the planet, NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been studying Martian soil at Gale Crater, is expected to remain largely unaffected by the dust. While Opportunity is powered by sunlight, which is blotted out by dust at its current location, Curiosity has a nuclear-powered battery that runs day and night.

A self-portrait taken by NASA's Curiosity rover taken on Sol 2082 (June 15, 2018). A Martian dust storm has reduced sunlight and visibility at the rover's location in Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A self-portrait taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover taken on Sol 2082 (June 15, 2018). A Martian dust storm has reduced sunlight and visibility at the rover’s location in Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA studies Thickest Dust Storm ever seen on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA’s Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater.

This set of images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This set of images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover waits out Dust Storm

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Science operations for NASA’s Opportunity rover have been temporarily suspended as it waits out a growing dust storm on Mars.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter first detected the storm on Friday, June 1st, 2018. As soon as the orbiter team saw how close the storm was to Opportunity, they notified the rover’s team to begin preparing contingency plans.

In a matter of days, the storm had ballooned.

This global map of Mars shows a growing dust storm as of June 6, 2018. The map was produced by the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. The blue dot indicates the approximate location of Opportunity. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This global map of Mars shows a growing dust storm as of June 6, 2018. The map was produced by the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. The blue dot indicates the approximate location of Opportunity. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity makes 5,000th Martian Dawn

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Sun rose on NASA’s solar-powered Mars rover Opportunity for the 5,000th time on Saturday, sending rays of energy to a golf-cart-size robotic field geologist that continues to provide revelations about the Red Planet.

“Five thousand sols after the start of our 90-sol mission, this amazing rover is still showing us surprises on Mars,” said Opportunity Project Manager John Callas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover's 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on Feb. 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ./Texas A&M)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover’s 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on Feb. 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ./Texas A&M)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity continues to make discoveries on Mars

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity keeps providing surprises about the Red Planet, most recently with observations of possible “rock stripes.”

The ground texture seen in recent images from the rover resembles a smudged version of very distinctive stone stripes on some mountain slopes on Earth that result from repeated cycles of freezing and thawing of wet soil. But it might also be due to wind, downhill transport, other processes or a combination.

Textured rows on the ground in this portion of "Perseverance Valley" are under investigation by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which used its Navigation Camera to take the component images of this downhill-looking scene. The rover reaches its 5,000th Martian day, or sol, on Feb. 16, 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Textured rows on the ground in this portion of “Perseverance Valley” are under investigation by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which used its Navigation Camera to take the component images of this downhill-looking scene. The rover reaches its 5,000th Martian day, or sol, on Feb. 16, 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars InSight Lander undergoes Solar Array Deployment Test

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  NASA’s next mission to Mars passed a key test Tuesday, extending the solar arrays that will power the InSight spacecraft once it lands on the Red Planet this November.

The test took place at Lockheed Martin Space just outside of Denver, where InSight was built and has been undergoing testing ahead of its launch. The mission is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“This is the last time we will see the spacecraft in landed configuration before it arrives at the Red Planet,” said Scott Daniels, Lockheed Martin InSight Assembly, Test and Launch Operations (ATLO) Manager.

The solar arrays on NASA's InSight Mars lander were deployed as part of testing conducted Jan. 23, 2018, at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. Engineers and technicians evaluated the solar arrays and performed an illumination test to confirm that the solar cells were collecting power. The launch window for InSight opens May 5, 2018. (Lockheed Martin Space)

The solar arrays on NASA’s InSight Mars lander were deployed as part of testing conducted Jan. 23, 2018, at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. Engineers and technicians evaluated the solar arrays and performed an illumination test to confirm that the solar cells were collecting power. The launch window for InSight opens May 5, 2018. (Lockheed Martin Space)

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NASA Mars Opportunity Rover makes it through another Martian Winter

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, has just passed the shortest-daylight weeks of the long Martian year with its solar panels in encouragingly clean condition for entering a potential dust-storm season in 2018.

Before dust season will come the 14th Earth-year anniversaries of Mars landings by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in January 2004. Their missions were scheduled to last 90 Martian days, or sols, equivalent to about three months.

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in "Perseverance Valley" shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA's Mars rover Opportunity's imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This enhanced-color view of ground sloping downward to the right in “Perseverance Valley” shows textures that may be due to abrasion by wind-driven sand. The Pancam on NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity’s imaged this scene in October 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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