NASA Takes a Photo of Opportunity Rover From Mars Orbit

Somewhere it there is the Opportunity rover 1 photo
Photo: NASA
It’s been months since NASA heard anything from its battered rover on Mars, Opportunity. But what NASA can’t hear, a reconnaissance satellite can see.
In orbit around Mars since 2006, a satellite called Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter positioned itself above the slopes of Perseverance Valley, where the Opportunity’s last known location is, and snapped a photo using a high-resolution camera called HiRISE.

The resulting image, featured above, shows a little spec of white, a blip among other white ridges and a very pixelated backdrop. That blip, believe it or not, is the Opportunity. At least that's what NASA says, adding that the white square you see in the photo marks a 154-foot-wide (47-meter-wide) area around the rover.

We can’t see much of anything in the photo because the shot was taken from 166 miles (267 kilometers) above the Martian surface, in the aftermath of a planet-wide dust storm that sent tons of small particles flying up into the Martian atmosphere.

Despite the fact they now know it’s there, NASA engineers are still at a loss as for how to proceed. The current contact methods still haven’t paid off, and the rover might be lost for good.

The Opportunity used to take its power from the sun, and the clouds of dust billowing during the storm have cut its energy supply. Engineers have feared from day one the prolonged inactivity of the machine might cause some permanent damage to the battery.

NASA currently sends a command multiple times a day to the rover, hoping to revive it. Should the machine not respond by the end of January next year, the mission of the Opportunity will end.

That would happen 14 years after the initial 90-day long mission of the machine began. Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004 and kept on going with its mission far longer than initially planned.
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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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