Recently, the turbulence reached NASA's Opportunity Rover's position and the mission was halted until the dust storm passes.
Nasa's Curiosity Rover has found organic molecules and methane releases on the planet Mars announced NASA's Press Release on Thursday. It is one of the largest storms that the rover has had to encounter and there are chances that the rover could become too cold to continue with its experiments.
The dust has blotted out the Sun in many regions, including Opportunity's current location at Perseverance Valley. Till now Opportunity has survived major storms since 15 years.
NASA's instrumentation shows that the rover's current temperature is around -29 degrees Celsius (-20 degrees Fahrenheit).
The basic process for finding Martian organic compounds can be boiled down to two steps - separate organic molecules from the Martian rocks and sediments and give them an electric charge so they can be detected and identified by the mass spectrometer, NASA said.
In 2007, a dust storm on Mars covered the entire planet and forced Opportunity to hunker down for two weeks in a sort of survival-mode of minimal operations.
Opportunity runs using solar power, and it has been on mars and exploring it since 2004.
The good news is Opportunity made contact with NASA over the weekend to confirm that it's still operational.
The storm, which has been growing bigger over the last week, was first spotted on June 1 by the space agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. "They can appear unexpectedly but last for weeks or even months".
Engineers are closely monitoring its battery levels and temperature. With dust clouds obscuring the sky, by Wednesday, June 6, Opportunity's battery levels had already "dropped significantly" NASA says. The team handling the operations thought it won't be able to maintain a balance between low power and energy-intensive heaters created to protect its batteries from the Martian cold. The rover's initial mission timeline was just 90 days, but it's now approaching its 15th full year of operation. Without the heaters, the rover's batteries would likely fail and doom the mission.
Top speed of the vehicle is 50 mm/second (0.18 km/h), and in the time it spent on Mars in managed to travel only 45 kilometers (28 miles), unofficially becoming the single slowest, most expensive self-propelled vehicle. "That wind kicks up yet more dust, creating a feedback loop that NASA scientists still seek to understand". The courageous little rover is continuing to weather the storm; it sent a transmission back to Earth Sunday morning, which is a good sign.