The nearly 23,000 square-mile
(37,000 square-km) storm moved west to east around the northern arctic
plains of Mars, and weakened considerably by the time it reached the lander on Saturday, Oct. 11. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter circling the planet took a snapshot
of the storm as it blew over
At the height of the storm, all the dust it had kicked up increased the opacity of the atmosphere over the spacecraft, letting less sunlight through to its solar arrays, the lander's sole source of power.
The hit to the lander's already diminishing power supplies limited what the spacecraft could do over the weekend.
Before the storm hit,
It "was a major accomplishment for us" considering the dip over the weekend, he added.
This storm may not be the last that Phoenix experiences because local dust storm tend to pop up more during fall and winter in the Martian arctic. (The storms are not the global monsters experienced by the Mars Exploration Rovers, Goldstein said, but are smaller regional dust storms.)
If other storms hit the lander, they'll further limit
The team was able to fill one oven
yesterday with a surface sample,
- Video - Dust Devils and Clouds on Mars
- SPECIAL REPORT: Phoenix Mars Lander: Digging for Ice in the Martian Arctic
- Images: Phoenix on Mars!