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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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New Gamma-Ray Collection Named After Hulk, Godzilla: NASA

Since 2008, Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) has been scanning the entire sky each day, mapping and measuring sources of gamma rays, the highest-energy light in the universe.

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NASA, gamma-ray collection
NASA names new gamma-ray constellations after Godzilla, Hulk. Pixabay

NASA has used certain characters from modern myths such as the “Hulk” and “Godzilla” to name its new set of 21 gamma-ray constellations constructed in celebration of its Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope’s 10th year of operations.

Fermi has mapped about 3,000 gamma-ray sources — 10 times the number known before its launch and comparable to the number of bright stars in the traditional constellations.

“For the first time ever, the number of known gamma-ray sources was comparable to the number of bright stars, so we thought a new set of constellations was a great way to illustrate the point,” NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Elizabeth Ferrara who led the constellation project said in a statement.

Gamma-ray constellation
The background shows the gamma-ray sky as mapped by Fermi. The prominent reddish band is the plane of our own galaxy, the Milky Way; brighter colors indicate brighter gamma-ray sources. NASA

 

“Developing these unofficial constellations was a fun way to highlight a decade of Fermi’s accomplishments,” Julie McEnery, the Fermi project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said.

Comic book fans who know the backstory of Hulk, the big, green, angry alter ego of Bruce Banner, whose experiments with gamma rays went terribly wrong, could easily appreciate NASA’s pick in naming one of its constellations.

Gamma rays are the strongest form of light. They pack enough punch to convert into matter under the right circumstances, a transformation both Banner and the Hulk would certainly appreciate.

NASA’s choice of Godzilla constellation is linked to its trademark weapon “heat ray,” a fiery jet. This bears at least a passing resemblance to gamma-ray jets associated with black holes and neutron stars.

Gamma-ray constellation
NASA names new gamma-ray constellations after Godzilla, Hulk

 

Godzilla ranks as one of cinema’s most famous monsters and is among the most recognisable symbols of Japanese popular culture.

In the original 1954 movie, nuclear weapons tests disturb the creature’s deep ocean habitat, and it emerges from the sea to wreak havoc in Japan.

The 21 gamma-ray constellations also include famous landmarks — such as Sweden’s recovered warship, Vasa, the Washington Monument and Mount Fuji in Japan — in countries contributing to Fermi science.

Since 2008, Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) has been scanning the entire sky each day, mapping and measuring sources of gamma rays, the highest-energy light in the universe.

Also Read: NASA Plans For Science Payloads For Delivery To Moon

The emission may come from pulsars, nova outbursts, the debris of supernova explosions and giant gamma-ray bubbles located in our own galaxy, or supermassive black holes and gamma-ray bursts — the most powerful explosions in the cosmos — in others.

“Fermi is still going strong, and we are now preparing a new all-sky LAT catalog,” said Jean Ballet, a Fermi team member at the French Atomic Energy Commission in Saclay.

“This will add about 2,000 sources, many varying greatly in brightness, further enriching these constellations and enlivening the high-energy sky!” (IANS)