Monday November 18, 2019
Home Lead Story NASA’s ...

NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover Might Have ‘Died’, Fear Scientists

Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2003

0
//
The rover is currently keeping its
The rover is currently keeping its "eyes" on a dust event that had gone global by June 20. Flickr

Nasa’s Mars Opportunity rover that went into hibernation last June after a massive dust storm blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels to generate power, might have “died”, fear scientists.

Opportunity’s last communication with Earth was received June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location on the western rim of Perseverance Valley, eventually blocking out so much sunlight that the rover could no longer charge its batteries.

Although the storm eventually abated and the skies over Perseverance cleared, the 15-year-old rover has not communicated with Earth since then.

“I haven’t given up yet. This could be the end. Under the assumption that this is the end, it feels good. I mean that,” The New York Time quoted Cornell University Professor Steven Squyres, the mission’s Principal Investigator, as saying.

If the storm knocked out the rover for good, “that’s an honourable death”, he added.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa’s Opportunity rover might have ‘died’ on Mars. Flickr

In a last bit of effort, engineers at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, are transmitting a new set of commands to the Opportunity rover in an attempt to compel the 15-year-old Martian explorer to contact Earth.

The new commands, which will be beamed to the rover during the next several weeks, address low-likelihood events that could have occurred aboard Opportunity, preventing it from transmitting, Nasa said.

“We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover,” said John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at the JPL.

“Over the past seven months, we have attempted to contact Opportunity over 600 times.

“While we have not heard back from the rover and the probability that we ever will is decreasing each day, we plan to continue to pursue every logical solution that could put us back in touch,” he said.

    NASA
    NASA’s Opporutnity Rover. Flickr

The “dust-clearing season” – the time of year on Mars when increased winds could clear the rover’s solar panels of dust that might be preventing it from charging its batteries – is drawing to a close.

Meanwhile, Mars is heading into southern winter, which brings with it extremely low temperatures that are likely to cause irreparable harm to an unpowered rover’s batteries, internal wiring and/or computer systems.

Also Read- Garbage a Ticking Time Bomb in India, Will Have ‘Disastrous Consequences’ if Not Checked

Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2003.

Spirit landed on Mars in 2004, and its mission ended in 2011. (IANS)

Next Story

This NASA Scientist is so Excited about Mercury Transit. Here’s Why

The tiny planet traveled directly between Earth and the sun on Monday, creating a perfect alignment

0
NASA, Scientist, Mercury
The planet Mercury is seen in silhouette, low center, from Washington, as it transits across the face of the Sun, Nov. 11, 2019. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls). VOA

Stargazers witnessed a rare celestial event on Monday, as Mercury passed directly across the face of the sun.NASA

Mercury, the solar system’s smallest planet and closest to the sun, won’t make the next such transit until 2032.

The tiny planet traveled directly between Earth and the sun on Monday, creating a perfect alignment.

The best views of the event took place in North and South America, while viewers in Europe and Africa were able to see part of Mercury’s passage.

NASA, Scientist, Mercury
Mercury, the solar system’s smallest planet and closest to the sun, won’t make the next such transit until 2032. Pixabay

Stargazers had to use solar-filtered binoculars and telescopes to spot Mercury, which appeared as a small black dot on the face of the sun.

Also Read- Anil Kapoor: I Need To Learn How To Go Easy On Myself

For those who could not see the event directly, the U.S. Space agency, NASA, live-streamed images of the celestial transit, which took about five and a half hours. (VOA)