The Sun begins to light again the Red Planet where NASA’s Opportunity rover hadn’t given any sign of life since June when a massive dust storm on Mars left the solar-powered robot without its “fuel,” the sunlight. The news that the storm on Mars settled gave hopes mixed with anguish among NASA engineers and space exploration enthusiasts.
Will we hear something from the Mars rover Opportunity anytime soon? NASA engineers hope so
NASA announced Thursday, August 30th, that the dissipation of the dust storm on Mars is clearing the Martian skies and should soon allow the 15-year-old rover to recharge its solar-powered batteries.
However, as the silence lasted more than 45 days, NASA could announce that, in the absence of sunlight and under the Martian cold climate, the NASA’s Opportunity rover might not recover.
NASA has three active satellites orbiting the planet, and two robots on the ground. The oldest of them, Opportunity Mars rover, has traveled more than 45 km since 2004, while the other, the nuclear-powered NASA’s Curiosity began its journey in 2012.
NASA’s Opportunity has already exceeded its life expectancy
NASA’s Opportunity rover was only supposed to last for 90 days initially, and NASA recalls that it has already far exceeded these expectations. The front steering is broken, and its flash memory no longer works correctly.
Space exploration enthusiasts and NASA’s engineers have been sharing their best memories on Opportunity and its discoveries on Twitter and other social networks. Some even shared images of the Mars rover.
Some even asked NASA not to give up after only 45 days of silence, having the precedent of the Opportunity’s twin, the Mars rover Spirit, which found its death after getting stuck in the Martian soil, back in 2010. Before that, however, Spirit went silent for about eight months, but NASA could reconnect with the rover and even attempt a “rescue mission.”