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NASA: Mars dust storm may finally be calming down

The planet-encircling dust bomb still shrouds NASA's Opportunity rover.

NASA shared Curiosity's dusty selfie on June 20.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mars is a bit of a mess right now.

The Red Planet is in the middle of a global dust storm that has forced one Mars rover into hibernation and left another working through hazy conditions. The storm kicked up in late May. 

Scott Guzewich, a member of the Curiosity rover team, posted a mission update to a NASA blog on Friday noting a slow decline over the last two weeks in the amount of dust seen over Gale Crater. He says "it's possible the dust storm has reached its 'peak.'"

"We may now be entering (or soon entering) the period where the massive amount of dust in the atmosphere will slowly settle out and Mars' shrouded surface may once again be clearly visible from space," says Guzewich.

While Curiosity is busy with its science studies, the Opportunity rover on the other side of the planet is still out of touch with home. The Opportunity team says it continues to listen for contact from the quiet rover every day. It last touched base on June 10. 

NASA hopes Opportunity will wake from its sleep when the skies clear and the solar panels are able to recharge its batteries. The rover launched in 2003 for a 90-day mission and has exceeded expectations by continuing its science observations well over a decade later. 

At this point, it's a matter of waiting out the storm and hoping Opportunity is able to revive after a long hiatus in cold and dark conditions.