NASA Finds Long-Lost Opportunity Rover Months After it Lost Communication

Arguably NASA's most loved rover the Opportunity has been rediscovered on Mars months after it lost communication with Earth during a massive dust storm that struck Mars.

However, despite having found it on the arid Martian landscape, the rover still won’t home phone and NASA has no idea whether the rover will spring back to life.

The rover was found in an image snapped by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter some 267 kilometers above the surface.

Opportunity Mission engineers hope the rover will eventually 'phone home'. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.
Opportunity Mission engineers hope the rover will eventually ‘phone home.’ Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

The massive Martian dust storm engulfed the entire planet preventing sunlight from reaching the surface, and thus recharging Opportunity’s solar panels, causing the robot to go silent in June.

Despite the fact that the dust storm is long gone now and the skies have cleared, Opportunity has yet to phone home, and scientists are worried the rover might be gone for good.

In August of 2018, John Callas, Opportunity project manager at JPL said: “The Sun is breaking through the haze over Perseverance Valley, and soon there will be enough sunlight present that Opportunity should be able to recharge its batteries.”

“When the tau level [a measure of the amount of particulate matter in the Martian sky] dips below 1.5, we will begin a period of actively attempting to communicate with the rover by sending it commands via the antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network. Assuming that we hear back from Opportunity, we will begin the process of discerning its status and bringing it back online.”

Dust storms are common on Mars, bur world-engulfing events like the one that happened a few months ago ten to occur every six to eight Earth years.

However, there still is hope as NASA has stepped up efforts to contact Opportunity. But experts fear that the Rover–which is almost 15 years old–may not have survived the prolonged power outage.

Mission engineered had hoped that the rover would recharge its batteries once the dust storm cleared, but after remaining silent for months, mission specialists admit morale is shaky, and they fear there’s nothing they can do to bring it back.

But in an effort to keep their spirits high and inspire the rover to call home, the scientists have composed a themed playlist with songs to kick off each Martian day form their control room.

Adequately, the song-list includes 18 songs, from Wham!’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ and The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’ to Queen’s Keep Yourself Alive.’

You can find more about the Opportunity rover here.

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