Dark days ahead for Mars rovers

Mars rovers caught in severe dust storm.

"A raging dust storm on Mars has cut power to NASA's twin rovers to dangerously low levels, threatening an end to the mission. One or both rovers could be damaged permanently or even disabled, officials said." Space.com

On Tuesday, July 17, the output from Opportunity's solar Mars rover
Mars rover
panels dropped to 148 watt hours, the lowest point for either rover. On Wednesday, Opportunity's solar-panel output dropped even lower, to 128 watt hours. Mission control has ordered the Mars rover to stop communications for two days. Engineers calculate that skipping communications sessions should lower daily energy use to less than 130 watt hours.

If the sunlight is further cut back for an extended period, the rovers will not be able to generate enough power to keep themselves warm or operate at all, even in a near-dormant state. Science @NASA.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Mars rovers will survive, say scientists.

Given the rovers' track record, scientists are optimistic that the rolling robots will successfully weather the latest martian dust storms. Scientists predict, however, that it could be weeks before Mars' dust-clogged air clears. USA Today

posted on Wed, 07/25/2007 - 7:29am

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