Mars dust storm knocks out rover
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s seemingly unstoppable Mars rover Opportunity has been knocked out by a gigantic dust storm that is enveloping the red planet and blotting out the sun.
Officials said Wednesday they’re hopeful the rover will survive the storm, which already covers one-quarter of Mars and is expected to encircle the planet in another few days. It could be weeks or even months, though, until the sky clears enough for sunlight to reach the Martian surface and recharge Opportunity’s batteries through its solar panels. The storm has been growing since the end of May with unprecedented speed.
NASA launched the twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit in 2003 to study Martian rocks and soil. They landed in 2004. Spirit hasn’t worked for several years. Opportunity, however, has kept exploring well past its expected mission lifetime.