NASA Is Trying to Wake Up the Mars Opportunity Rover

NASA Is Trying to Wake Up the Mars Opportunity Rover

NASA's Curiosity rover just took an epic selfie on Mars, and it's ready to explore other areas of the Red Planet. It hasn't woken up since.

Since loss of signal, over 600 recovery commands have been radiated to the rover, NASA said in a statement.

"We're sorry, but we will not be posting updates to this blog during the government shutdown", officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted to the mission blog. The new commands are going to be sent out to the rover over the next few weeks, according to NASA, and will hopefully address the events that caused the rover to stop transmitting in the first place. According to the space agency, the Mars environment looks dustier than usual because of a dust storm now happening at that particular location. "Dust-clearing season", which is a time of year that higher winds sometimes clear the rover's solar panels of dust, is coming to a close.

The battery, which hasn't been operating for months, was never created to last this long and if drained, it is feared that the batteries have become damaged during the off time. In order to send commands to Opportunity, NASA uses the Deep Space Network, which includes three locations around Earth with giant antennas.

But Callas and the Opportunity team are also realistic.

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Back in 2014 it set the off-Earth driving record and had only been increasing that number until June 10, 2018, when it encountered a dust storm and ceased communications. However, if the rover still doesn't manage to respond, the project team would need to consult with the Mars Program Office at JPL in order to decide on the next plan.

"We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover", says John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at JPL, in a press statement. The thick clouds of dust blocked out the sunrays, leaving the rover on a limited energy reserve.

It has travelled over 45 kilometres and logged its 5,000th Martian day (or sol) back in February 2018. It traveled 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers) before becoming stuck in a sand trap in late 2009. Although NASA's engineers have already attempted to recover the rover, all attempts were unsuccessful.

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

NASA's engineers expect that the new commands and strategy will last for several weeks until, hopefully, they receive a signal back from Mars.

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