Mars dust storm now covers entire planet

Avatar By Le Williams | 2 years ago

Last week’s Martian dust storm has now engulfed the entire circumference of the planet, according to NASA.

Subsequent to June 10, the solar-powered Opportunity rover ceased communications with NASA engineers as an attempt to preserve energy. In its 15th year of exploration, the Opportunity rover is the oldest in operation on Mars.

Opportunity is supported by fellow rover Curiosity and three orbiters which include the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the 2001 Mars Odyssey, and MAVEN. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter gave Opportunity’s engineers an early warning about the approaching storm and performs like a weather satellite. The additional two orbiters can measure the amount of dust and study how the upper atmosphere behaves.

Fortunately, the Curiosity rover is able to keep NASA engineers updated on the storm. Curiosity remains largely unaffected. It faces the rim of the crater, and photos from its Mast Camera show a hazy sky that is between six and eight times thicker than normal for summer on Mars.

The haze blocking the sunlight, referred to as tau, has reached a level of 8 over Gale Crater where Curiosity hangs out. That’s a record for Curiosity’s recordings. The last measurement over Opportunity’s location was a record 11.

“Martian haze, all around. The dust storm now circles the whole planet. The measure of atmospheric opacity, or ‘tau,’ is over 8.0 here in Gale Crater — the highest I’ve ever seen. Still safe. Science continues,” Curiosity tweeted.