A violent storm that has engulfed Mars entirely in the last few months has led to NASA’s Opportunity Rover being shut down in June, and at the moment, the spacecraft is still turned off. The rover has been wandering on the Red Planet for 14 years.
NASA attempts to make contact with the robot
NASA has been closely observing the robot’s situation every day, listening to the rover since the day it was forced to shut down. Scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have attempted to send a message command to Opportunity three times every week. Unfortunately, no response was sent back.
Andrew Good, who is a Mars and Mars technology media relations specialist, told Inverse that there are really no updates about the rover at the present time. Good mentioned that many scientists suspect that the skies will become sufficiently clear in the middle of September, which will allow the spacecraft to recharge its solar panels. The last time when NASA had any signs from Opportunity was on 10th of June.
Update from NASA
Good stated that NASA is not expecting any signs from the rover until the storm is gone. Based on an update from the company on 6th of August, that moment maybe not that far in time. According to the statement from NASA, there are indications that the dust storm on Mars is decaying. They also have some signs that the atmospheric opacity over the spacecraft site could be decreasing. “Since the last contact with the rover on Sol 5111, Opportunity has likely experienced a low-power fault and perhaps, a mission-clock fault. Additionally, the up-loss timer has also since expired, resulting in another fault condition”, the company added.
However, this doesn’t leave NASA without any spacecraft to keep an eye on the Red Planet, as the Curiosity rover, which runs on nuclear power, is currently studying geological formations on the other side of Mars.