How is Mars Rover Opportunity Still Alive? | Space News

Today, we review one of the great ongoing mysteries in the history of Mars exploration. In January of 2004, the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity arrived at the red planet about three weeks apart. Due to the extreme dustiness of the Martian environment, it was believed that the rovers would be hindered by dust accumulation on their solar panels and were only given anticipated lifespans of 90 days each. Fast Forward more than eleven years to 2015. For reasons that no planetary scientist has successfully explained, the Rover Opportunity is still alive and transmitting data to scientists on Earth. In this episode, we explain what this “anomaly” reveals about the electrical nature of dust raising events on Mars.

Errata: source for quote on screen from 3:48 to 4:01 is http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2006/mars_soil_chem_prt.htm

March 18, 2015 NASA report on mysterious dust cloud and aurora in Mars atmosphere: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/march/nasa-spacecraft-detects-aurora-and-mysterious-dust-cloud-around-mars/#.VQyRwjTF9vq

2008 New Scientist report on Opportunity’s “mysterious cleaning”: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6824-mystery-of-mars-rovers-carwash-rolls-on.html

Previous Space News on the 2012 observation of “baffling” Martian plumes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ6m3XQalTI

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