Zonk from the sit-tight-little-robots dept.
Riding with Robots writes "NASA reports that a severe ongoing dust storm on the Red Planet has blocked 99 percent of the direct sunlight that powers the Opportunity rover. If these conditions persist for too long, it could finally bring an end to the marathon mission of this robot geologist, and perhaps of its partner Spirit as well. 'Before the dust storms began blocking sunlight last month, Opportunity's solar panels had been producing about 700 watt hours of electricity per day, enough to light a 100-watt bulb for seven hours. When dust in the air reduced the panels' daily output to less than 400 watt hours, the rover team suspended driving and most observations, including use of the robotic arm, cameras and spectrometers to study the site where Opportunity is located ... A possible outcome of this storm is that one or both rovers could be damaged permanently or even disabled. Engineers will assess the capability of each rover after the storm clears.'"
"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things
we don't know yet."