NASA to Reveal Fate of Opportunity Rover on Wednesday

Illustration of the Opportunity rover 1 photo
Photo: NASA/JPL/Cornell University
On Wednesday, February 13, the American space agency will hold a press briefing to reveal the fate of the lost Opportunity Rover. The briefing comes mere hours after the last planned attempts to raise the machine were made on Tuesday.
Officially, NASA did not say whether what will be announced today can be considered good or bad news, but the prospects are not encouraging.

Earth-based scientists lost contact with the Martian rover on June 10, 2018, at a time when the neighbouring planet was engulfed in a massive sand storm the like of which humans saw only once before, in 1977, when the Viking I flew by.

Being a solar powered-machine, Opportunity was left with its main power source, sunlight, when dust covered the skies over Mars and its solar panels. To protect itself, the rover powered down and entered minimal operations mode.

Hopes were that as soon as the storm is over and the dust from the solar panels are blown away by wind, the rover will slowly come back to life and resume communications with Earth. That didn’t happen, and frantic efforts to contact Opportunity began.

For a long period of time, NASA sent commands to the rover three times a week, with no success. Theories as for why the rover does not respond have expanded to include malfunctions to the primary and secondary X-band radios and problems with the internal clock.

The Opportunity arrived on the Red Planet in 2004 together with its brother Spirit, on a mission that was supposed to last only 90 days. On Friday, January 25, Opportunity would have turned 15 years on Mars.

Following the demise of the Spirit in 2010, and now the projected end of the Opportunity, a third rover, the Curiosity, is the only one still operating on Mars. Two more rovers, one from NASA and ESA’s Rosalind Franklin will be joining it in 2021.
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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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