Science 2 min read

NASA Attempts Final Opportunity Rover Rescue Mission

Artist illustration of the Opportunity rover inside Mars' Endurance Crater | NASA/JPL-Solar System Visualization Team

Artist illustration of the Opportunity rover inside Mars' Endurance Crater | NASA/JPL-Solar System Visualization Team

For nearly fifteen years, NASA’s Opportunity rover has collected valuable information for scientists on Mars to study here on Earth. Unfortunately, Opportunity ceased communication with the U.S. space agency last June after a massive dust storm engulfed the red planet.

“It’s worrisome for Opportunity because she’s not getting enough sunlight to keep her batteries charged, but thermal models tell us temperature is on our side,” Tanya Harrison, the director of Arizona State University’s NewSpace Initiative, told Gizmodo.

Now, over six months after the rover went silent, NASA engineers created a new set of powerful commands to revive the rover.

In the space agency’s announcement, NASA reported that engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California already transmitted the commands to Opportunity in order to wake it up.

Reviving the Opportunity Rover

“We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover,” John Callas, project managers for Opportunity at JPL, was quoted as saying. “These new command strategies are in addition to the ‘sweep and beep’ commands we have been transmitting up to the rover since September.”

The new communication strategy will reportedly go on for the next several weeks.

“Over the past seven months we have attempted to contact Opportunity over 600 times,” Callas added.

“While we have not heard back from the rover and the probability that we ever will is decreasing each day, we plan to continue to pursue every logical solution that could put us back in touch.”

If neither the additional strategy or the “sweep and beep” technique works, NASA engineers will attempt a recovery. If this still fails to trigger a response from the Opportunity rover, the Opportunity project team will consult with the Mars Program Office at JPL and the NASA Headquarters to identify the next steps to take.

Do you believe that NASA would still be able to recover the Opportunity rover?

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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