June 13, 2018 10:11 am
Updated: June 13, 2018 10:18 am

NASA’s Mars rover goes silent after massive dust storm envelops planet, blotting out sun

This composite image made from a series of Jan. 23, 2018 photos shows a self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Vera Rubin Ridge.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via AP
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A NASA rover on Mars has fallen silent as a gigantic dust storm envelops the planet and blots out the sun.

Flight controllers tried late Tuesday night to contact Opportunity, but the rover did not respond. The storm has been growing since the end of May and now covers one-quarter of the planet.

READ MORE: NASA’s rover finds more evidence that life on Mars may be possible

Controllers expect it will be several more days before there’s enough sunlight to recharge Opportunity’s battery through its solar panels. NASA says the battery is likely so low that only a clock is still working, to wake the spacecraft for periodic power-level checks.

READ MORE: Making babies on Mars won’t be easy, or ethically straightforward

NASA launched the twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit in 2003 to study Martian rocks and soil. Spirit hasn’t worked for several years. Opportunity, however, has kept exploring well past its expected mission lifetime.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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