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The Storm, Dust storm of 2007
OWW
post Jul 5 2007, 05:57 PM
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Oh no...This is getting bad:

The new and potentially bleak outlook is a stark shift from the prognosis earlier this week.

The dusty squall has reduced direct sunlight to Mars' surface by nearly 99 percent, an unprecedented threat for the solar-powered robotic explorers. If the storm keeps up and thickens with even more dust, officials fear the rovers' batteries may empty and silence the robotic explorers forever.

Opportunity's energy-gathering ability has been slashed to a dangerous 280 watt-hours-enough power to light only three 90-watt light bulbs.

"The worst-case scenario is that enough dust in the sky decreases solar energy to the point that we have to shut down too many things to save power," Lemmon said. "The rovers keep their battery alive by keeping their electronics alive."


"The reality of the situation is that we're limited as to what we can do from the ground by cutting power use," Callas said. "If it continues to worsen and stay that way, it's a survivability issue for Opportunity. If Mars wants to kill the rovers, it can."

http://www.space.com/news/070705_dusty_rovers.html
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kungpostyle
post Jul 5 2007, 06:32 PM
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This is starting to look like it might need it's own topic.

http://www.space.com/news/070705_dusty_rovers.html

With Home plate and the inside of Victoria on the menu I really hope this blows over.


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helvick
post Jul 5 2007, 06:49 PM
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99% drop in direct beam flux is Tau of around 5.2. That's slightly worse than the highest Tau levels measured by the Vikings in 1977.

Edited. Doh! My bad - it's actually about 4.6 which is not quite as bad as the worst the Viking's saw in 1977.
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Guest_Bobby_*
post Jul 5 2007, 06:59 PM
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I saw this article on Yahoo News and thought everyone might want to see it regarding both Rovers on Mars.

Martian dust storm affecting twin rovers:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070705/ap_on_...bvYqwxIae_737YB
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Stu
post Jul 5 2007, 08:11 PM
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Hope this doesn't get any worse... don't want to see pics like this coming down... sad.gif

Attached Image


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mchan
post Jul 5 2007, 08:26 PM
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It would be awesome if the pictures can show something visually dramatic like that. Unfortunately, the pictures appear to show the the landscape getting slowly murkier and murkier. An animated movie would be awesome.

It's probably not too bad if any pictures can still come down. It's bad if no pictures can come down. sad.gif
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Stu
post Jul 5 2007, 08:31 PM
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I know there's no way we'd ever get pics like that, I was just imaginin' ...


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Oren Iishi
post Jul 5 2007, 08:46 PM
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Can the rover be shut down until the storm passes? Or at least put in sleep mode?
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MarsIsImportant
post Jul 5 2007, 09:04 PM
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Yes, but the heaters need to be on to keep the electronics in safe condition. Nomatter what, Opportunity needs a certain level of power to survive. The latest news suggests that those power levels are uncomfortably close to that lower limit even with sleep mode.

This is a very unfortunate turn of events. But if opportunity survives intact, then this storm and its aftermath is an incredible new science opportunity for the rover. Let's just hope that the dust storm does Not get any worse than it has over the 4th of July.

If you believe in the Gia hypothesis, then maybe Mars was just celebrating with it own brand of fireworks! ;-) rolleyes.gif smile.gif ...the kind that some western states had to ban because of the drought.
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Tom Tamlyn
post Jul 5 2007, 09:32 PM
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What is the impact of the storm on dust deposition rates? Is the activity mostly too high in the atmosphere to blow heaps of dust onto the solar arrays?

TTT
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djellison
post Jul 5 2007, 09:37 PM
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Strangely, if I get this right - regional dust storms are quite good because they cause high wind speeds ( note the cleaning that Opportunity got just over a week ago ) - BUT I would imagine that there comes a point when the dust loading, whatever the wind speed, must cause increased deposition.

Doug
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ngunn
post Jul 5 2007, 09:51 PM
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It must all fall down when the wind stops. If it causes almost complete obscuration when it's airborne then I fear it will do the same when it settles, unfortunately.
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djellison
post Jul 5 2007, 09:56 PM
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What happened after the, admitedly much more modest regional storm, that Opportunity had in the 600-ish range - the one that made it sleep in late one morning?

Doug
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post Jul 5 2007, 10:06 PM
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Are there any pictures of the dust storm anywhere? This isn't looking good. sad.gif
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Pavel
post Jul 5 2007, 10:34 PM
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Would not the air be warmer if the airborne dust is consuming the solar light? It's summer in the southern hemisphere, and Mars should be close to its perihelion, so maybe the power requirements for the heater are not so high as in the middle on the winter?
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