NASA’s Curiosity Rover sends a 360-degree image of itself during a massive storm that has covered a quarter of Martian surface back to Earth. Curiosity took this image six years into its mission. Its current location is in the Gale Crater, a 96-mile wide valley which was once thought to be a lake. The thick storm hides the mountains and rocky background which should have been visible.
The image was shared by citizen scientist Sean Doran, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena California. It is composed of various shots. Viewers quickly noticed the missing hand which took the photo. Mr. Doran explained that it has blended out of the shot as the hand moved around to take about 100 shots making a full 360-degree image.
Curiosity is currently weathering the storm. It doesn’t rely on sunshine, thanks to its plutonium fuel source. Same is not true for the Opportunity Rover which is gone into a ‘sleep’ state in the middle of the storm. It fell silent on June 12, when engineers attempted to make contact with it. Opportunity is waiting out the storm that has blocked the sun.
The project team, when they got the first indication of a storm, put together a three-day plan to get the rover through the weekend. The weekend passed and the storm was still raging and increasing dramatically each day. The is currently in a low power state and will remain in this state until there is sufficient energy to charge its battery.
The opportunity has faced a storm of larger scale back in 2007. It went completely offline for a few days to conserve energy. This storm seems to be gearing up to be as bad. The scientists are afraid they might lose the rover if the temperature drops too much. That’s what happened to Opportunity’s twin, Spirit.