NASA Begins Poking Opportunity to Get it up and Running

Opportunity Rover back in the day when it still worked 1 photo
Photo: NASA
The sun is out again over the reddish dusty planes of Mars and with it comes hope that the long-lost Opportunity rover might be brought back to life.
Taking the clearing skies as a cue to spring to action, NASA announced this week the start of its revival plan for the rover, but more ramped up than initially announced.

The first plan was that for the next month and a half, the agency will be sending a command three times a week to the rover, hoping to revive it. Now, the agency says its sending signals to Mars multiple times a day, Space reports.

Should the rover not respond by the end of January 2019, the now over 14-years long mission of the Opportunity will end.

Opportunity is perhaps the most iconic and extraordinary machines ever built by NASA. It landed on Mars in 2004 and was to conduct business there for only 90 days. For some reason, the machine kept going far beyond its initial life estimate.

The rover is solar-powered, so it was heavily affected by a Martian dust storm the likes of which humans haven’t witnessed in a very long time. At its peak, the dust storm covered the entire planet.

Even if the rover eventually picks up, NASA engineers fear the prolonged inactivity of the machine might have caused some damage to the battery.

The discharge of the batteries might have been so severe that they might not be able to store as much power as before, affecting the rover operational capabilities.

Should the rover respond, NASA engineers will have to run a series of diagnostics and depending on the data received to decide whether to attempt a full recovery of Opportunity or not.

It is expected that should contact be reestablished, it would take several weeks of communications to determine the actual state of the rover.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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