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NASA Planning To Restore Its Communication With Rover Opportunity

We will not give up on #Oppy even after the 45 days of plan we have put in place!

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Launched on August 12, Parker Solar Probe, NASA's historic small car-sized probe will journey steadily closer to the Sun, until it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles. Pixabay
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US space agency NASA is planning to start its effort to restore communication with the Mars rover Opportunity.

In a recent statement, NASA said it would begin a 45-day campaign of active efforts to restore communications with Opportunity once skies above the rover cleared to a sufficient level, Xinhua reported.

The rover has been out of contact since early June, when a major dust storm deprived the rover of solar power and the storm is fading.

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NASA’s plan attracted criticism. Wikimedia Commons

“The dust haze produced by the Martian global dust storm of 2018 is one of the most extensive on record, but all indications are it is finally coming to a close,” said Rich Zurek, project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Zurek said in the statement that there had been no signs of dust storms within 3,000 km of Opportunity “for some time.”

John Callas, Opportunity project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement that “assuming that we hear back from Opportunity, we will begin the process of discerning its status and bringing it back online.”

However, NASA’s plan attracted criticism because it limited the active part of the recovery to 45 days.

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NASA’s Opporutnity Rover. Flickr

Mike Seibert, a former flight director and rover driver for Opportunity said that Jet Propulsion Laboratory under NASA once attempted “active listening” of Spirit, the twin of Opportunity, for 10 months in 2010 and 2011 when that rover stopped transmitting before giving up.

Also Read: ISRO’s First Manned Space Mission to Cost $1.4 Billion

Callas said that if Opportunity did not respond to communications attempts after that 45-day campaign, it likely meant the spacecraft had suffered a mission-ending malfunction.

“We will keep trying to get our Martian friend back online. We will not give up on #Oppy even after the 45 days of plan we have put in place!” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science. (IANS)

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NASA On The Outlook To Find The Name Of Its New Mars Rover

Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July or August 2020 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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TESS, rover
NASA Curiosity rover completes 6 years on Mars. Pixabay

NASA is on the look out for a partner to conduct a contest among students to name the agency’s next rover to the Red Planet — the Mars 2020 mission — in the 2019 academic year.

The Mars 2020 rover mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars, including key questions about the potential for life on the Red Planet.

Corporations, nonprofits and educational organisations interested in sponsoring the contest can send proposals to NASA.

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The selected partner will have an opportunity to be part of a historic mission, NASA said. IANS

To be considered, all proposals must be received by October 9, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

“We’ve been doing naming contests since the very first Mars rover back in 1997,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington.

“Thousands of kids participate, and their enthusiasm for the contest and Mars is infectious,” Zurbuchen said.

TESS, rover
An artist’s concept provided by NASA shows the Keplar Spacecraft moving through space. VOA

The selected partner will have an opportunity to be part of a historic mission, NASA said.

Also Read: Balloon Mission by NASA May Lead to Improved Weather Forecasting

Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July or August 2020 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (IANS)