Martian Dust Imperils Rover Mission

After 3 weeks with no solar power, fears of permanent damage
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2007 9:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – The violent dust storm that has immobilized NASA's Mars rovers for three weeks shows no signs of letting up, and is now threatening the future of the mission. "This is by far the worst storm the rovers have ever seen,"  the rovers project manager told reporters.  "Now it's all about saving power."

Spirit and Opportunity are solar powered, and have been crippled by thick dust clouds that are blocking out 99% of the planet's sunlight. Engineers have kept them dormant, except for brief daily monitoring, but now they're worried about permanent damage. "The threat to the rover is that it doesn't have the energy to stay warm and that its sensitive electronics would become too cold," Callas said.
(Read more Mars stories.)

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