For the first time since its descent onto the red planet, the Mars rover Curiosity is getting a little alone time.
The rover and NASA scientists are having a communication breakdown, of sorts. But, not to worry, no hurt feelings are involved. The issue is that the sun has got in the way.
Once every 26 months, as the Earth and Mars rotate around the sun, the two planets end up on opposite sides of the star in an event called the Mars solar conjunction. Because of the sun’s massive size, any communication sent between the two planets can be easily disrupted.
Not wanting to take any chances and send Curiosity or other Mars rovers scrambled directions, NASA shuts down all communications with its rovers for the time period in which the sun is in the way. This typically lasts about four weeks.