A Nasa rover on Mars has fallen silent as a gigantic dust storm envelops the planet and blots out the sun.
Flight controllers tried to contact Opportunity late on Tuesday, but the vehicle did not respond.
The storm has been growing since the end of May and now covers a quarter of the planet.
The Martian dust storm blotting out the sun above Opportunity has continued to intensify. It blankets a quarter of the planet. All rover subsystems are off, except a mission clock, programmed to wake the computer to check power levels. Full status report: https://t.co/VwuuPwEpPA pic.twitter.com/rQvHDsxuQj— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) June 13, 2018
Controllers expect it will be several more days before there is enough sunlight to recharge Opportunity’s battery through its solar panels.
Nasa said the battery is likely so low that only a clock is still working, to wake the spacecraft for periodic power-level checks.
A current Martian dust storm about the size of North America & Russia combined may help scientists better understand the Red Planet. Join us tomorrow at 1:30pm ET to hear from experts about this & how it's affecting @MarsRovers operations: https://t.co/GzgOOIRBTf Q? #askNASA pic.twitter.com/egsIdZ6uFO— NASA (@NASA) June 13, 2018
The space agency launched the twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit in 2003 to study Martian rocks and soil.
Spirit has not worked for several years. Opportunity, however, has kept exploring well past its expected mission lifetime.
- Press Association