Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dust storms can't power the Rovers

Mars is .25 the size of Earth but has a thin atmosphere. It has dust devils, gets as high temperature wise around 50 F at the equator and has dust storms. One huge storm threatens the Rovers because the sun is blocked out so the solar generators can't store energy for use.

(E.O.A.S.1) Find out how dust storms work on Mars and Earth.
(E.O.A.S.2) Explain how the Rovers can't get power because of th storms (read the article)

"Dust storms could cripple Mars rovers"
(Source: AP, 7/21/07)

Mission scientists worry that nearly a month's worth of storms could
permanently damage or disable the Mars rovers exploring the Red Planet.

A series of severe Martian summer dust storms has blocked 99 percent
of direct sunlight to the rover Opportunity. Its companion, Spirit,
has been affected to a lesser extent. Both rely on solar panels to
charge their batteries.

Scientists believe the storms could continue for several days, or even

"We're rooting for our rovers to survive these storms, but they were
never designed for conditions this intense," Alan Stern, associate
administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a news
release posted Friday on the space agency's Web site.

The rovers will not be able to generate enough power to keep
themselves warm and operating under reduced sunlight for much longer,
NASA said.

Before the dust storms, Opportunity'

s solar panels had been producing
about 700 watt hours of electricity per day. The dust reduced the
daily output to less than 400 watt hours, prompting the rover team to
suspend driving and most observations. On Wednesday, Opportunity's
solar-panel output dropped even further, to 128 watt hours.

The rovers have been exploring Mars since landing in 2004 for a
mission originally planned for three months.

On the Net:
Mars Rovers mission:

Photo of Martian Rock:


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