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Considering the fact that the dust blocks most of the sunlight, NASA's rover is unable to use the solar panels to recharge its battery.

This isn't the first large dust storm to be observed on Mars.

Opportunity's master clock is created to wake up the rover periodically to check its battery charge. The meteorite impact left a crater of Mars' surface and caused a dust avalanche visible by the long black line in the image shared by NASA.

Opportunity carries eight radioisotope heater units - each using the radioactive decay of plutonium to produce about one watt of heat - to keep the rover's internal electronics from getting too cold.

The solar-powered Opportunity, launched in 2003 as part of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover program, stopped its communication with engineers on Earth after June 10 because it is blotted out by dust at its current location.

Whereas, rover Curiosity is nuclear-powered and is still up and running. But that doesn't stop operators from checking on the rover every day.

NASA scientists are maintaining a full-court press on the Martian dust storm. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) has a lens that's photographed Mars in incredible detail, giving scientists the ability to see objects as little as 3 feet wide and to study the planet's surface structure.

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"We have a historic number of spacecraft operating at the Red Planet".

The dust storm may seem exotic to some Earthlings, but it's not unique to Mars.

"The Martian dust storm has grown in size and is now officially a "planet-encircling" (or "global") dust event", NASA officials said in a statement. Compared to a similar event in 2007, NASA is now much better prepared, as it has two rovers on the surface of the planet and three satellites orbiting around it.

According to the space agency, the amount of sunlight-blocking haze in the Martian atmosphere, known as "tau", has now exceeded the 8.0 value over the Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover is conducting its scientific research - and snapping the occasional selfie in the process, the Inquisitr reported a few days ago. But Opportunity measured even an thicker haze before going into hibernation earlier this month.

Storms are common in the spring and summer on Mars, but sometimes they remain small and last only a week.

While this storm is huge, Opportunity made it through an even bigger one in 2007. He is deputy principal investigator of the Mars Color Imager camera (MARCI) on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

"The project doesn't expect to hear back from Opportunity until the skies begin to clear over the rover", NASA says of ground controllers based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "That would be like forecasting El Niño events on Earth, or the severity of upcoming hurricane seasons".


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