Wednesday, 24 April, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover clicks last selfie on Mars’ Vera Rubin Ridge

NASA's Opportunity Rover May Have'Died on Mars in Dust Storm NASA Attempting to Restore Contact With Mars Opportunity Rover Following Massive Dust Storm
Cary Marshall | 01 February, 2019, 01:07

Instead of waiting for the rover to answer NASA is constantly sending a beep command to the rover. The last time the rover contacted Earth was on June 10, 2018 which is when the global dust storm hit, preventing recharging of the robot.

The commands could help reset the clock or tell the rover to switch to a backup radio. The new commands are going to be sent out to the rover over the next few weeks, according to NASA, and will hopefully address the events that caused the rover to stop transmitting in the first place.

In a statement on Friday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that its engineers have embarked on transmitting a new set of signals created to wake up the dormant vehicle.

The "sweep and beep" commands have been telling Opportunity to reply with a beep, rather than just waiting for it to wake and send a message.

"We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to the rover", John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at the laboratory, said, as cited in the statement. Eventually, the Martian sand covered the Opportunity's location and blocked the sunlight from reaching its solar cells, so the rover entered hibernation mode. "Dust-clearing season", which is a time of year that higher winds sometimes clear the rover's solar panels of dust, is coming to a close. If the vehicle is not able to charge its batteries, NASA said the extremely low temperatures could cause "irreparable harm" to any unpowered batteries, internal wiring or even computer systems. If not, the project team would consult with NASA to figure out a new plan. They landed on Mars in 2004.

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Despite all the effort, hopes that the rover will be brought back to life are dim and fading away with every day left until the brutal Mars winter takes over.

Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2003.

"Fifteen years on the surface of Mars is testament not only to a magnificent machine of exploration but the dedicated and talented team behind it that has allowed us to expand our discovery space of the Red Planet", Callas said in a statement earlier this week.

Before contact was lost, the vehicle had operated for 5,111 sols, or Martian days, and traveled more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) - the longest by an off-world wheeled vehicle. It landed on the surface of Mars on January 24, 2004 to begin a 90-day mission to find convincing geological signs that water once flowed on the red planet. "However, this anniversary can not help but be a little bittersweet as at present we don't know the rover's status".

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