Mars is witnessing a dreaded weather event, as a huge dust storm is raging across the Red Planet. Such weather situation in Mars is common and it often lasts for even a few weeks.
However, this mammoth storm which now has a size of 41 million square kilometres and NASA's Opportunity, a determined solar-powered rover that has been roaming around the Martian surface for more than 15 years, is in the middle of it.
One-third of Mars gulped by the dust storm
It should be noted that Mars is just under 145 million square kilometres and the current size of the storm indicates that it has already captured one-third of the Martian atmosphere. The current dust storm season on Mars is expected to last until early 2019.
Now, scientists working with NASA and they have already shut down the robot's operations in the Martian surface. NASA scientists are now not focussing in obtaining data from Opportunity rover but they are trying their best to keep the rover alive.
Opportunity rover makes use of solar energy to obtain the power for its functioning. But now, the rover is receiving very less solar power due to the thick dust storm which has already blocked the sun's rays in the atmosphere of Mars. Experts believe that rover's system is already strained due to the less exposure to the sun.
NASA researchers are well aware that keeping the Opportunity warmer, is very much necessary to make it alive. NASA researchers believe that it was the cold temperature and less exposure to sunlight which killed Opportunity's companion rover 'Spirit' way back in 2010.
Curiosity rover safe
Almost 1410 miles away, NASA's Curiosity rover is conducting experiments on the Red Planet. Experts claim that Curiosity is better equipped to handle issues like dust storms and less solar energy availability, as it has a nuclear generator which runs amidst harsh weather conditions. Now, Curiosity rover is helping the scientists in NASA to keep track of the course of the gigantic dust storm.