As the global storm that wrapped the Red Planet in a cloud of dust since late June finally gave up the ghost in September, the sky continued to clear over Endeavour Crater and the Opportunity team initiated the NASA-approved two-step plan to reestablish contact with the rover.
The dust raising power of the storms that wrapped Mars in a cloud in June and July diminished in August. Meanwhile, on Earth, the Opportunity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reviewed recovery plans, conducted additional simulations, and began wrapping the month with newfound reasons to believe Opportunity can emerge from her hibernation.
Heedless of the (now-dissipating) dust storm, Curiosity has achieved its first successful drill into rocks that form the Vera Rubin ridge, and is hopefully on the way to a second. It took three attempts for Curiosity to find a soft enough spot, with Voyageurs and Ailsa Craig being too tough, but Stoer proved obligingly soft on sol 2136.
Though progress is being made on Mars Sample Return, a new report from the National Academies recommends NASA have a long-term plan for robotic Mars exploration, and work to ensure communications infrastructure is maintained at the Red Planet. These recommendations largely align with those made by The Planetary Society in a report released in 2017.
As Opportunity slept in Perseverance Valley under the thick cloud of dust that has blanketed the Red Planet for the last six weeks, scientists who are studying the monster storm that forced the robot field geologist into its hibernation mode are now reporting the tempest has peaked.