NASA's favorite Opportunity is silent for months after being swept away in the huge dust of the Red Planet Storm last summer, and NASA engineers searched the rover to answer unreservedly. Now, NASA says it will send new commands to the resilient researcher in the hope of contacting it, even the possibility that she will react is becoming more and more uncertain.
These new efforts to connect to the 15-year-old rover will continue for several weeks and will examine three options, according to an update from the space agency, namely that Opportunity has problems with its radio or internal clock. NASA called the circumstances that would lead to specific problems that are "unlikely", but the Opportunity team has not yet lost hope. John Callas, NASA's JPL project leader, said in a statement. "These new command strategies are in addition to the" cleaning and beep "commands that we've been relegating to the Row from September."
Opportunity subsided in June after a massive Martian dust storm – the strongest on the planet – and NASA engineers thought the solar engine had entered hibernation to retain what power it had left. They hoped that the strong winds during the next "dust-cleaning season" would help clear the solar panels and give them the opportunity to recharge, but no luck yet. against the clock. According to NASA, the proximity to low temperatures can create new threats for Opportunity systems and batteries if the rover can not be loaded before.
Stephen Skuers, Chief Opportunity Mission Investigator, told the New York Times that there is still hope. But he added, "That may be the end. Assuming this is the end, he feels good. I mean that. "
This month, Opportunity celebrated its 15th anniversary of landing on the Red Planet as part of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover mission. Together with his Double-Row Spirit, who touched Mars weeks earlier in 2004, Opportunity took up what was expected to be a 90-day mission to search for signs of water on the planet. Both rovers far exceeded their expected lives. While the pursuit of the Spirit on Mars is over in 2011, opportunities continue and continue to make valuable scientific discoveries. allowed us to expand our space to discover the Red Planet, "Kallas said in a statement earlier this week. "However, this anniversary can not help, but it is a bit bitter, as we do not know the status of the river at the moment. We do our best to communicate with Opportunity, but over time, the likelihood of successful contact with marossihood continues to diminish. "
We are rooting for you, Oppy.
[Jet Propulsion Laboratory, New York Times]