NASA’s old Opportunity rover might be sleeping through the rough dark weather, but Curiosity is on a schedule, sending to earth incredible images of skies filled with dust.
It has been more than a month since the Red Planet has been engulfed in dust. It started on the side of the planet where Opportunity Rover was roaming, and it then spread towards Curiosity. In just a few days, it surrounded the planet.
These two images shown side by side were sent from Mars Express orbiter from the European Space Agency. They’re almost 10 years apart, not from the same distance or angle, but it shows the same regions on Mars. On the left, in July 2008, the Martian surfaces were easy to spot. All four giant volcanic mountains on the planet were visible: Ascraeus Mons, Pavonis Mons, Arsia Mons, and Olympus Mons.
Now, in July 2018, the dust hides almost all the mountains, except for the tops of the largest ones: Olympus Mons and Arsia Mons, and they too are barely visible.
Waiting For the Storm to Clear Out
At the moment, the team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which takes care of Opportunity rover, is waiting for the storm to clear out. As soon as sun rays will get to the Red Planet, the solar-powered rover will be able to get enough energy to say ‘hi’ back to its team. They haven’t been in touch since June 12.
Curiosity is operating almost as usual, since it uses nuclear power to work. It continues to send back photos to Earth at each sol and update the crew on the storm. It also continues its science operations, drilling into rocks to gather and analyze samples.
Just like the Opportunity crew, we’ll have to wait the storm out for better photos from Curiosity. There is no approximate time for when the storm will clear out yet.
You Can See Mars From Earth
Meanwhile, everyone on Earth can look up into the night sky and see Mars with the naked eye. Here is when and where to look for it. On July 27, you’ll see it much brighter – and we hope that the storm will not affect its brightness – as it enters in a position where it’s the closest to our Planet since 2003.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.