NASA’s Opportunity rover might have ‘died’ on Mars

NASA attempts to force Opportunity rover to phone home

NASA attempts to force Opportunity rover to phone home

The thick clouds of dust blocked out the sunrays, leaving the rover on a limited energy reserve. Although not set in stone, that deadline is looming and has sent engineers scrambling for new solutions.

"We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover", said John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at JPL.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announced on Monday that the Mars-based Curiosity rover was heading on a new journey to the Red Planet's Mount Sharp, a largely clay region that forms the Gale crater.

While unlikely, the scenarios are possible, so NASA is sending commands to the rover to switch to its backup radio and to reset the clock in case either of those scenarios did in fact happen.

"We are doing everything in our power to communicate with Opportunity, but as time goes on, the probability of a successful contact with the rover continues to diminish". The landing site for the Opportunity mission is in the southern hemisphere of Mars, and during southern winters Mars is also further away from the Sun, which means the is colder than the northern winter.

Although the Mars rover had been caught up in dust storms before, and, luckily, survived, this particular storm was described by NASA as "one of the most intense" and apparently the most taxing on the golf-car-sized robot.

Engineers could attempt a recovery, NASA said, if the "sweep and beep" or the new transmission strategies generate a response.

"Over the past seven months we have attempted to contact Opportunity over 600 times", Callas said. They landed on Mars in 2004.

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A self-portrait of the Opportunity rover created using the Microscopic Imager on the vehicle's robotic arm. That's 15 years, not too shabby for a mission that was expected to only last 90 days.

NASA's Opportunity rover was launched on July 7, 2003, with its twin, Spirit. Before falling silent, it logged more than 28 miles.

In 2009, Spirit became ensnared in a sand trap. The twisted ridge has been Curiosity's home for over a year, where it provided scientists with new samples of Mars' surface.

With the government shutdown over, NASA is once again sharing selfie photographs snapped by the space agency's Martian rover Curiosity.

Curiosity is the most popular but Opportunity managed to provide a high amount of information about the Red Planet.

This panorama is the view NASA's Opportunity rover gained from the top of the "Cape Tribulation" segment of the rim of Endeavour Crater.

Mars looms large in America's space future.

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