NASA Gives Opportunity Until January to Respond, Mission to End If It Doesn’t

As the drama of one of humanity’s most enduring rovers on the Martian planes continues, more and more info about what NASA plans for it in the near future come to surface.
NASA's Opportunity has a few more months to respond 1 photo
Photo: NASA
At the end of last week, NASA detailed the way in which it is trying to hail the Opportunity by any and all means necessary and hinted to the fact that these efforts will continue in the coming months, without setting a deadline.

But as the dust storm that might have spelled the end for the rover subsides and a response is still absent, the economics of keeping a large number of humans involved in these efforts begin to take their toll.

According to, citing Opportunity project manager John Callas, the efforts to contact Opportunity will not last forever. By the end of January 2019, should the machine not respond, NASA will be putting an end to a now 14-year old mission on the Red Planet.

Opportunity arrived on Mars in 2004 and was supposed to be operational for only 90 days. It far outlived NASA’s wildest expectations and outlasted its brother rover, the Spirit, by seven years.

As soon as the skies are clear enough, NASA will begin sending a command three times a week to the rover, waiting for a beep from the machine. The agency plans to do so for the following month and a half.

After that, using Deep Space Network antennas, engineers will continue to listen for signs of life from the Opportunity for the following months.

The biggest fear, aside from complete lack of contact, is that even if it responds, the rover’s battery might have been damaged to such an extent that it might be affecting the rover operational capabilities.

It is to be 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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