Thursday January 17, 2019
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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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The food grown in space could be crucial to sustain the crew in future deep space missions. Pixabay

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)

Next Story

China on Consecutive Missions To Moon and Mars

The 2011 Wolf Amendment, motivated by security concerns, bans NASA scientists from working with Chinese citizens affiliated to a Chinese state enterprise or entity

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NASA, Moon
China plans another Moon mission in 2019, targets Mars in 2020: Report

Riding on its success of landing a rover on the far side of the Moon earlier in January, China’s space agency is planning to launch another mission to the Moon by the end of 2019 and a mission to Mars as early as 2020, the media reported.

The plans underscore China’s ambitions in space at a time when the US is curtailing NASA’s budget and increasingly handing over space exploration to commercial adventurers, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

The China National Space Administration is working to send a probe to the Red Planet, said Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the agency.

“China will carry out its first-ever exploration mission to Mars around 2020,” he said.

On January 3, China’s robotic spacecraft Chang’e-4 landed on the far side of the moon, a first in the human history of space exploration.

The 1.3-tonne lander, which made a soft landing on the Moon, put potato seeds and silkworm eggs housed in a chamber, and fed natural light and nutrition, on the Moon.

The space agency plans to launch a Chang’e-5 mission at the end of 2019 with the goal of collecting samples from the near side of the moon, Wu said. They would be the first samples retrieved since 1976.

China is also building its own space station, called Tiangong or Heavenly Palace, which is expected to be operational in 2022. But the agency is still deciding whether to send astronauts to the Moon, Wu said.

NASA mars, UAE, Hubble
China plans to land Mars in 2020 VOA

It also deployed a small rover called Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2, to explore the surrounding lunar terrain, which is believed to be older than that on the near side.

“All these are first-time breakthroughs for humankind,” Wu said, adding “they are bound to make significant impacts on both China and the world.”

Meanwhile, China also said it has shared data with NASA about the Chang’e-4 lunar mission.

That claim could not be immediately substantiated, but it could raise eyebrows on Capitol Hill because NASA and the Chinese agency are prohibited from cooperating without congressional approval, the report said.

Also Read: China Exchanged Data With NASA On Its Recent Mission To Moon

The 2011 Wolf Amendment, motivated by security concerns, bans NASA scientists from working with Chinese citizens affiliated to a Chinese state enterprise or entity.

“Expanded international cooperation is the wish of all scientists,” Wu said. “It takes joining of forces among the world’s big space powers to really make a difference in human space exploration.” (IANS)