`Foreign object` found by Mars rover a rock flake

NASA news Curiosity rover

NASA news Curiosity rover

In a blog post, NASA said that it may never again have contact with the Opportunity rover, after the craft got caught up in a Martian dust storm in the middle of June.

Scientists first observed a smaller-scale dust storm on May 30.

While the extended silence is worrisome, NASA says "there's reason to be optimistic". That's because diagnostics ran on the state of the batteries before the storm hit showed they are in good shape and its unlikely they suffered severe degradation. The planet-encircling dust storm on Mars is gradually settling.

What will engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, be looking for - and what will those signs mean for recovery efforts? That will help scientists estimate the tau. Previous storms which "plastered dust on the camera lenses", saw most of the dust eventually shed off.

"This is the strongest dust storm that we've seen on Mars in the history of observing it, so we had no idea how bad this was going to be and how long it's going to keep "Opportunity" asleep for", Tanya Harrison said. By early July, NASA still believed that Opportunity will still be able to wake up after being in low-power mode, but that confidence seems to have declined since then.

Snap that: Mystery of how to break spaghetti into two cracked!
Their co-authors are Norbert Stoop, instructor of mathematics at MIT , and Emmanuel Villermaux of Université Aix Marseille. They found that if a 10-inch-long spaghetti stick is first twisted by about 270 degrees and then bent it will snap in two.

In addition, JPL's radio science group uses special equipment on DSN antennas that can detect a wider range of frequencies.

With the dust storm also warming the environment, and the fact that it is summer in the part of Mars where Opportunity is located, the rover may have stayed just warm enough to survive. Since the last contact with the rover, Opportunity has likely experienced a low-power fault and perhaps, a mission-clock fault.

Mars Opportunity Rover has been silent since June 10 when the massive Martian dust storm cut off the rover from solar power. If the rover doesn't know what time it is, it doesn't know when it should be attempting to communicate.

What happens if they hear back? The Opportunity team pings the machine several times each week and listens for a response. "It may take several communication sessions before engineers have enough information to take action".

There are indications that the atmospheric opacity might be decreasing over the Opportunity site.

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