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Dust storm jeopardizes Mars rovers
Posted: Sun, Jul 22, 2007, 11:29 AM ET (1529 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) The twin NASA Mars Exploration Rovers are in danger of shutting down permanently as massive dust storms on the planet continues, preventing them from generating enough power. The dust storms, which have lasted for nearly a month, have cut the power generated by the rover's solar panels, reducing the total power available from a typical 700 watt-hours per day to just over 100 watt-hours earlier in the week. The rovers have remained in place and suspended most of their normal activities, including scientific research and some communications, but have still in some cases used more power than can be generated by solar panels alone, drawing down batteries. If these storms continue for an extended period, they could damage or even permanently disable the rovers, particularly if the rovers are unable to generate enough power to run heaters that keep critical electronics systems warm.
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