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Martian dust storm goes global

Data from orbit and from Curiosity at Gale Crater confirms that the dust storm that has shut down Opportunity is now a global storm, encircling Mars.

The Martian dust storm has grown in size and is now officially a “planet-encircling” (or “global”) dust event.

Though Curiosity is on the other side of Mars from Opportunity, dust has steadily increased over it, more than doubling over the weekend. The sunlight-blocking haze, called “tau,” is now above 8.0 at Gale Crater — the highest tau the mission has ever recorded. Tau was last measured near 11 over Opportunity, thick enough that accurate measurements are no longer possible for Mars’ oldest active rover.

This will be first global storm to occur on Mars since Curiosity landed in 2012, thus giving scientists the best opportunity to study such an event.

Meanwhile, Opportunity remains silent. This does not mean it is dead, but that it doesn’t have enough sunlight to charge its batteries. It might die during this storm if the storm lasts long enough, but we won’t know one way or the other until the storm finally eases.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • wodun

    This is why we need nuclear power.

  • Orion314

    The electric universe model contends Mars global dust storms tie in with opposition of earth.

  • wayne

    nail on the head. Every probe should be powered by internal nuclear.

    –a repeat from me, but lots of good factoids contained therein:

    Mars Dust Storm News
    JPL teleconference 6-13-18

    –Teleconference reports the “Tau” was “11.5,” and they have pictures of what the sun currently looks like from the surface.
    -Opportunity is powered by solar cells, but in the main instrument bay there are multiple small nuclear units that provide 8 watts of heat-energy to the electronics. (This is the first time I’ve heard this described, and I am unclear on specifics.)
    -“Maximum design low-temperature is -50C, maximum operating low-temp is -40C, and during this storm they expect low temps to bottom out at -37C.”

    –On the upside, from past storm experience– accumulated dust on the optics has tended to shed itself almost completely during good weather. The camera’s are finely calibrated and any remaining dust aberration can be taken out digitally in post-production.

  • wayne

    can you give me the 5 cent tour on the “Electric Universe?”
    I see a lot of youtube stuff listed with that Topic, but I’ve never delved deeply.

  • BSJ


    Plug nickel tour. In the electric universe, impact craters are formed by lightning, not impacts…

    Opportunity was designed to only last 90 days. Would have been a waste to send it with a nuclear source.

  • wayne

    thank you, and…point taken.
    -just a personal preference for over-engineering. (I only play an engineer, on the interweb)
    And yes– can’t beat the lifespan!

    tangential– (we are, living in the Future)
    “Mariner 6 and 7 Programs Missions to Mars,”
    JPL 1969

    [from the Atlas Centaur Heritage Film Collection which was donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum by Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance. The Collection contains 3,000 reels of 16-millimeter film. ]

  • BSJ

    Yeah, some of the E-Universe stuff sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Other times, not so much!

    I checked out when I read about that part of the “theory”.

  • Orion314

    look up thunderbolts project , on youtube , a starter for the electric universe model

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