NASA’s Opportunity Rover still missing in Martian dust storm

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Washington, Aug 15 (IANS) NASA’s Opportunity Rover, which has been roaming Mars for nearly 15 years, is missing for two months after getting caught in a massive dust storm, the media reported.

The rover had to undergo an emergency shutdown in June, after the Martian dust storm prevented it from powering itself through its solar panels.

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been listening for the rover everyday since its forced shutdown and attempting to send Opportunity a message command three times a week. So far, it has not sent a beep back, the Inverse reported on Tuesday.

Last NASA heard from Opportunity was on June 10 and since then there’s no real update, Andrew Good from NASA’s Mars and Mars technology media relations specialist told Inverse.

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“We still haven’t heard from it. A variety of scientists think early to mid-September might be a time when the skies clear enough that it could recharge,” he said.

Moreover, the science team does not expect to hear anything from Opportunity until there has been a significant reduction in the atmospheric opacity over the rover site, NASA said in a statement.

“Since the last contact with the rover on June 10, 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,” it added.

First detected by NASA on June 1, a massive storm led to a “dark, perpetual night” over the rover in the Perseverance Valley.

The rover uses solar panels to provide power and to recharge its batteries.

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Opportunity’s power levels had dropped significantly by June 6, requiring the rover to shift to minimal operations and later to temporarily suspend science operations.

Despite the worsening dust storm, Opportunity had sent a transmission to NASA engineers on June 10.

–IANS

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