Last updated June 20, 2018 at 11:13 am
Image shows comparatively better conditions compared to Opportunity darkness.
The massive dust storm currently engulfing Mars has already seen NASA rover Opportunity shut down for lack of sunlight. And it has now spread towards the newer and more sophisticated Curiosity.
But before it did, NASA took the opportunity to snap a rover selfie, thanks to the instrument called the Mars Hand Lens Imager on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm – effectively a sophisticated (and expensive) selfie stick.
The camera captured all of Curiosity in a series of 200 photos, which NASA download bit by bit and stitched together to remove the image of the arm holding the camera.
The picture has amazing clarity even as the sky turns a dark orange from the dust.
But is also shows how less severe the conditions are on the side of the planet where Curiosity is situated. Opportunity on the other hand, is in pitch blackness, meaning its solar batteries have been unable to charge. Curiosity on the other hand, is nuclear-powered.
The image above has been corrected by digital artist Seán Doran.
The violent dust storm that has been raging since 30 May and may last weeks more.
NASA is still hopeful Opportunity will survive the storm, but we may not know for months as the dust settles to allow enough sunlight to recharge its batteries.
The twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit were launched in 2003 and landed in 2004 to study Martian rocks and soil. Spirit hasn’t worked for several years but Opportunity has continued to function well past its expected mission lifetime.