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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.

NASA, opportunity
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.

TESS, rover, opportunity
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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NASA’S Twins Study Claims, Long-term Spaceflight Not Linked to Major Health Risks

"It's almost as if the body's on high alert," said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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NASA
Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday. Pixabay

While it was previously thought that long duration spaceflight can affect the human body, even at the molecular level, new results from NASAs “Twins Study” has showed that there are no major warning signs and no reason to think humans cannot survive a two-and-a-half-year round-trip journey to Mars.

As part of the “Twins Study”, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while Mark, his identical twin, stayed on Earth as a control subject to look at the effects of space travel on the human body.

Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

NASA
According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern. Pixabay

These comparisons, however, has not raised any red flags about long-term spaceflight on the International Space Station (ISS), NASA officials were quoted as saying at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here.

“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The space sojourn also changed the activity of some of his genes.

“It’s mostly really good news,” Mason said, adding, “the body has extraordinary plasticity and adaptation to being in zero gravity, at least for a year”.

NASA
“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. Pixabay

According to Craig Kundrot, Director of NASA’s space life and physical sciences division, so far the space agency’s research found nothing that would make a Mars mission impossible.

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According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern.

However, Kundrot cautioned that the twin study has only two people as samples. “We don’t regard any of this as conclusive, but on the whole it’s encouraging,” he said, adding, “there are no new major warning signs”. (IANS)