NASA's Opportunity rover to get some sun as Mars dust storm wanes

With clearing skies over Opportunity's resting spot in Mars' Perseverance Valley, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, believe the almost 15-year-old, solar-powered rover will soon receive enough sunlight to automatically initiate recovery procedures - if the rover is able to do so.

NASA's younger Curiosity rover was unaffected by the dust storm; it relies on nuclear, versus solar, power. "This can't be based on any real analysis of the situation", tweeted Mike Seibert, a former flight director and rover driver for Opportunity who is no longer at JPL.

"Assuming that we hear back from Opportunity, we all begins he process of dswcverign its status and bringing it back online".

"The dust haze produced by the Martian global dust storm of 2018 is one of the most extensive on record, but all indications are it is finally coming to a close", said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project scientist Rich Zurek at NASA's JPL.

Stalled in Perseverance Valley, the rover went into shutdown partly to protect itself from the dust storm and also because its power source as about to disappear.

The plight of NASA's Mars Opportunity rover since a massive dust storm encircled Mars on June 10 has captured the attention of stargazers everywhere.

"If we perform now not hear attend after forty five days, the team might be forced to develop that the sun-blocking mud and the Martian frosty enjoy conspired to cause some kind of fault from which the rover will extra than likely now not obtain successfully", Callas stated.

The team managing Opportunity rover has already started preparing for the dust storm's end.

Dr Callas said if the agency does not establish contact within this time frame, Opportunity is most likely lost to damage.

While dust storms aren't an unusual occurrence on Mars - the planet is shroud in a red haze of dust once every couple of years - but NASA says this is "one of the most intense" storms ever recorded.

Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) took the component images for this view from a position outside Endeavor Crater during the span of June 7 to June 19, 2017. "MARCI images of the Opportunity site have shown no active dust storms for some time within 3,000 kilometers [about 1,900 miles] of the rover site". Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The additional several months for passive listening are an allowance for the possibility that a Red Planet dust devil could come along and literally dust off Opportunity's solar arrays.

In its most recent statement, NASA explained that Opportunity will be given 45 days to communicate with its team after sunlight levels are adequately restored. The original mission was created to last for just 90 days, so Opportunity has outperformed about 60 times over. A dust devil could only revive the vehicle if a buildup of dust is the reason it has stopped moving. The objective of the rover is to move gradually and to make scientific observations.

Scientists and engineers are now sending a command three times a week to the rover, waiting for a beep from the machine.

"In a scenario admire this, you hope for the completely but conception for all eventualities", Callas stated. While Spirit ceased communicating with us back on March 22, 2010, Opportunity has been operating on the surface of Mars for more than 14 and a half years (keep in mind, each rover had an planned operational life of 90 days). "And if she does, we are going to have the flexibility to be there to listen to her".

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