By Mike Deliman
Though we haven't seen a lot of Mars in the news lately, for those who keep track, the past couple of months have been somewhat stressful. A sandstorm started on Mars over a month ago. It's still raging on, and even though the rovers are on opposite sides of the planet, the storm has affected both rovers.
This dust storm has measurable effects. It's made the sky more opaque, added dust to the solar panels, and made the atmosphere retain a little more heat. With the dust in the sky, less sun light makes it down to the rovers. With new layers of dust on the panels, even more of the sunlight is blocked out. And even though the dust helps retain heat, it's not a huge difference, and it's still cold enough that the emergency heaters could be turned on.