NASA’s Opportunity rover remains silent after the dust storm on Mars

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The storm had blocked out the Sun, cutting the rover off of its only available source of power. NASA knew that the rover would be forced to sit dormant for a while because of the intensity of the storm, but that was several weeks ago. The dust has since began to settle, and enough light should be pushing its way down to the surface to begin recharging Opportunity’s batteries once again. If things are working correctly, the batteries should now be gathering power once more, but it’s unclear how long it’s going to take for power levels to reach acceptable levels. Space scientists lost contact with the Opportunity Rover almost two months ago.

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Probably the storm deposited powder onto the solar panels. Next week, Mars will make its closest approach to Earth since 2003, a particularly good time for observing the Red Planet. Opportunity was only designed to survive for 90 days on the surface of Mars but has kept on trundling for 15 years. The storm which engulfed it was one of the largest ever observed on the Red Planet and blanketed the entire planet, throwing some regions into perpetual darkness. There is still a chance it will come back to life when the dust drops from its solar panels. But this possibility will become less and less likely as more times passes.

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