will opportunity survive the storm?

I mentioned about two weeks ago that the Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, was "weathering a nasty dust storm that's obscuring enough of the Sun's light that the rover is only able to charge its batteries to about 1/3rd of maximum. This means no major activity for Opportunity until the storm subsides and the atmosphere clears up."

Unfortunately, the storm has continued to intensify and Opportunity is only able to get about 130 watt-hours of charge per day. That's less than the rover is consuming each day with critical systems and Opportunity's small reserve is being diminished with each day.

Opportunity's crew has cut the frequency of communications sessions and thinks that will get the power usage down to just under 130 watt-hours per day, just enough for Opportunity to avoid damage or complete failure, if the solar conditions don't worsen.

The sky did clear some over the last two days, which is great news, allowing the array energy collection to bump up a bit, but the storm is not over yet. I'll keep you all updates as soon as I hear more.

Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

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