The Latest: It’s the beginning of the end for the planet-encircling dust storm on Mars. But it could still be weeks, or even months, before skies are clear enough for NASA’s Opportunity rover to recharge its batteries and phone home. The last signal received from the rover was on June 10.
Scientists observing the global event — which is actually caused by a series of local and regional storms throwing dust into the Martian atmosphere — say that, as of Monday, July 23, more dust is falling out than is being raised into the planet’s thin air. That means the event has reached its decay phase, when dust-raising occurs in ever smaller areas, while others stop raising dust altogether.
Opportunity is part of an international fleet of spacecraft exploring Mars from all angles. The lineup: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Orbiter Mission, Mars Express, MAVEN and the Curiosity rovers and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.MarCo, the first CubeSats sent into Deep Space, are set to arrive at Mars in November with InSight. Explore Mars in Depth ›