20:25 GMT25 October 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - One of the largest dust storms ever seen on Mars, covering roughly "the area of North America and Russia combined," has affected the operations of the US Opportunity rover, the US The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said Tuesday in a statement.

    "The storm is one of the most intense ever observed on the Red Planet. As of June 10, it covered more than 15.8 million square miles (41 million square kilometers) – about the area of North America and Russia combined. It has blocked out so much sunlight, it has effectively turned day into night for Opportunity, which is located near the center of the storm, inside Mars' Perseverance Valley," NASA stated.

    The US space agency announced a teleconference on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. EDT (17:30 GMT) to discuss the storm and explain what scientists could learn from it.

    The Opportunity rover, which arrived on the Red Planet in 2004, suspended data gathering a few days ago. On Tuesday, NASA engineers had to assume the rover went into low power mode after it failed to ping back. According to NASA, the rover probably will have to wait several days for the storm to clear out before it can have enough sunlight to charge.


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