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A new image produced by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has located the Opportunity rover on Mars. As expected, the rover was spotted on the slopes of the Perseverance Valley, where it went into hibernation mode about 100 days ago when the planet-covering dust storm darkened skies above the region.
And while communications still haven’t been reestablished with the rover, the MRO was able to spot the Opportunity rover from orbit. The image was captured while the orbiter was at an altitude of about 267 km (166 mi) above the Martian surface. The white box marks a 47-meter-wide (154-foot-wide) area centered on the rover.
Dust - Storm - History - May - Arabia
This dust storm was one of the worst in recent Martian history. It began back in May, starting in the Arabia Terra region and then spreading to become a planet-wide phenomena within a matter of weeks. This storm caused the skies over the Perseverance Valley, where the Opportunity rover is stationed, to become darkened, forcing the rover into hibernation mode.
This is due to the fact that Opportunity, unlike the Curiosity rover, relies on solar panels to keep its batteries charged. The prolonged dust storm also meant that the rover might not be able to keep its heaters running, which protect its batteries from the extreme cold of the Martian atmosphere. For this reason, there were fears that Opportunity might not survive this latest dust storm, depending on how long the storm lasted.
Dust - Storms - Occurrence - Mars - Hemisphere
Dust storms are a pretty regular occurrence on Mars, and generally occur when the southern hemisphere experiences summer – which coincides with the planet being closer to the Sun in its elliptical orbit. Due to increased temperatures, dust particles are lifted...
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