Wake Up, Oppy! NASA Sends New Commands to Mars Opportunity Rover


An artist’s notion portrays a NASA Mars Exploration Rover on the floor of Mars.
Illustration: NASA/JPL/Cornell University

NASA’s beloved Mars rover Option has been silent for months immediately after getting swept up in anmonumental dust stormon the Purple World past summer, and NASA engineers have been pinging the rover to solution to no avail. Now, NASA says it will send new instructions to the resilient explorer in hopes of generating contact, even as the likelihood that it will respond becomes increasingly unsure.

These new attempts to get in touch with the 15-calendar year-aged rover will go on for numerous weeks and will handle a few possibilities, according to anupdatefrom the space agency, particularly that Option is dealing with troubles with its radios or interior clock. NASA referred to as the conditions that would have resulted in the certain problems it is addressing “unlikely,” but Opportunity’s workforce hasn’t missing hope nonetheless.

“We have and will proceed to use several procedures in our tries to call the rover,” John Callas, venture manager for Option at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), reported in aassertion. “These new command methods are in addition to the ‘sweep and beep’ instructions we have been transmitting up to the rover considering that September.”

Prospect went tranquil in June following a enormous Martian dust storm—thestrongestat any time noticed on the planet—and NASA engineers believed that the photo voltaic-powered roverwent into hibernation methodto help save what electricity it experienced remaining. They hoped that powerful winds during a subsequent “dust-clearing season” wouldhelp clear its photo voltaic panelsand make it possible for it to electric power back up, but no luck consequently far.

Now, as this season attracts to a shut, engineers are doing work in opposition to the clock. According to NASA, nearing low temperatures could pose new threats to Opportunity’s devices and batteries if the rover is not able to boot up right before then.

Steven Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity’s mission, explained to theNew York Occasionsthat he nonetheless has hope. On the other hand, he included: “This could be the close. Underneath the assumption that this is the stop, it feels good. I indicate that.”

This month, Prospect celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of its landing on the Crimson Planet as component of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission. Alongside one another with its twin rover Spirit, which touched down on Mars weeks prior to it in 2004, Possibility embarked on what was anticipated to be a 90-day mission tolookup for indicators of wateron the planet. The two rovers much outlasted their predicted mission lifetimes. Even though Spirit’s run on Mars successfullyended in 2011, Opportunity persisted and continued to make invaluablescientific discoveries.

“Fifteen several years on the surface area of Mars is testomony not only to a magnificent device of exploration but the focused and talented workforce driving it that has permitted us to develop our discovery area of the Purple Earth,” Callas said in astatementearlier this 7 days. “However, this anniversary are unable to assistance but be a small bittersweet as at existing we do not know the rover’s standing. We are undertaking anything in our energy to talk with Possibility, but as time goes on, the chance of a profitable get hold of with the rover continues to diminish.”

We’re rooting for you, Oppy. You should cell phone residence.

[Jet Propulsion Laboratory,New York Occasions]

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