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NASA’s Mars Orbiter Spots Opportunity Rover

In an attempt to talk to the rover, the Opportunity team is increasing the frequency of commands it beams to the rover,

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A NASA Mars orbiter has spotted the agency’s Opportunity rover on the Red Planet for the first time since it went into hibernation after a dust storm swept over the region a little more than 100 days ago and blocked sunlight from reaching the rover.

A high-resolution camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured the image of the rover on the slopes of the Red Planet’s Perseverance Valley, NASA said in a statement on Tuesday.

But the future of Opportunity is still in limbo as NASA has still not heard from the 14-year-old solar-powered rover.

The image of the rover, taken on September 20, was produced from about 267 kilometres above the Martian surface.

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The nearly 15-year-old rover is not out of the woods yet as it could take weeks, or even months, for the dust to start settling., Pixabay

The image showed that the dust storm over Perseverance Valley has substantially cleared.

NASA scientists estimated that the tau — a measurement of how much sunlight reaches the surface — over Opportunity to be a little higher than 10 during some points during the dust storm.

The higher the tau, the less sunlight is available.

The tau has steadily fallen in the last several months. On September 20, tau was estimated to be about 1.3 by MRO’s Mars Color Imager camera.

According to scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, Opportunity will need a tau of less than 2.0 before the solar-powered rover will be able to recharge its batteries.

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NASA Curiosity rover has completed 6 years on Mars. Pixabay

No signal from Opportunity has been heard since june 10.

Also Read: NASA On The Outlook To Find the Name of Its New Mars Rover

In an attempt to talk to the rover, the Opportunity team is increasing the frequency of commands it beams to the rover via the dishes of NASA’s Deep Space Network from three times a week to multiple times per day. (IANS)

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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

Also Read: Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)