On Friday , June 8, the storm covered more than 7 million square miles of Mars (18 million square kilometers), an area larger than all of North America on Earth, according to NASA. The area blanketed by the dust storm includes Perseverance Valley, Opportunity’s current home.Such storms can crop up suddenly but last weeks, even months. The swirling dust is impacting Opportunity’s solar panels, which it uses to recharge its batteries and power the heaters that allow the rover to function in the extreme cold conditions of Mars.
Storm on Mars and the area where is Opportunity marked blue
The rover’s current suspension of activity is expected to be temporary. “There is a risk to the rover if the storm persists for too long and Opportunity gets too cold while waiting for the skies to clear,” NASA wrote in the statement. Cold destroyed NASA’ Spirit rover in 2012. Previously, the rover experienced other storms. In 2007, a dust storm on Mars covered the entire planet and forced Opportunity to stay for two weeks in a sort of survival-mode of minimal operations. It survived. Opportunity initially was prepared for a 90 days mission on Mars but it is working for 14 years on Mars surface.