The Greatest Weather Selfie
You think it's hot here - imagine being in a dust storm on Mars! The whole planet is engulfed in the mammoth storm now. So naturally the Curiosity rover took a selfie in the storm. The above image (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) is actually a composite of a bunch of different pictures. Imagine if you could take 100 pictures then stitch together the best shots for the ultimate selfie. That's what the rover does which is why you can't see the arm it's using to take the selfie. The arm was positioned out of or on the edge of all the shots so when they are all laid together in a mosaic, you can't see the arm. For scale, the rover's wheels are 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and about 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide.
"The storm is one of the most intense ever observed on the Red Planet," NASA said in a statement. "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." The above image (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) shows the changes to a drill site after the storm started. NASA said of the redder color in the "after" picture on the right, "red light (is) being filtered through the dust; very little green and essentially no blue light make it through the dust cloud. It's not unlike the way a forest fire changes the color of light, or a red stage light filters the other colors out."
This series of images shows simulated views of a darkening Martian sky blotting out the Sun from NASA's Opportunity rover's point of view, with the right side simulating Opportunity's current view in the global dust storm. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU) The Curiosity rover is the one with the selfie and is fueled by plutonium, so it was not affected by the storm. The older Opportunity rover relies on sunshine, so it went to sleep while dust obscured the sun.
In late June this dust storm was dubbed "planet encircling," meaning it was global. The dust readings in some locations were the highest recorded on mission. This is storm season on Mars, and there is no estimation on when this one will clear.