Tough rovers weather fierce Mars dust storms

first_imgBy City News Service The twin Mars rovers were nearly destroyed in severe, sky-darkening Martian dust storms this summer, but the solar-powered robots were awake Friday and ready to continue their mission, JPL officials said. Martian dust storms were so severe in July that officials feared Opportunity and Spirit would not survive to continue their travels. The riding motor-sized rovers were only expected to explore for three months when they first traveled the 303 million miles to Mars in 2004, but they are now operating in their 43rd month. Opportunity’s planned descent into the 800-foot Victoria Crater was delayed this summer because of the dust, but the rover is now expected to journey into the crater as early as Tuesday. Scientists hope Opportunity will emerge with more information, but some fear the aging rover may not be able to get back out of the hole. Spirit lost the use of one of its wheels about a year ago, limiting its ability to climb on the Martian surface. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more