Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Curiosity Says Farewell to Mars Vera Rubin Ridge

NASA Attempting to Restore Contact With Mars Opportunity Rover Following Massive Dust Storm NASA Curiosity Mars rover wraps up Vera Rubin Ridge work
Frank Williams | 01 February, 2019, 01:08

The twisting ridge on Mars has been the rover's home for more than a year, providing scientists with new samples - and new questions - to puzzle over. It hasn't woken up since.

Additionally, in case the rover's internal clock, which provides a timeframe for its computer brain, is offset, a command to reset the clock and respond via UHF has also been sent.

"We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover", John Callas from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.

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. However, months after the storm had ended and the dust had settled, the rover continued to be unresponsive.

It was initially hoped that the rover would recharge its batteries during a "dust-clearing season" that kicked off after the storm and is now coming to an end.

At that time, NASA's Opportunity Rover was conducting scientific experiments on the western rim of Perseverance Valley.

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Meanwhile, Opportunity celebrated its 15th year anniversary exploring the Red Planet this month, becoming the longest-running Mars rover yet.

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

If Opportunity replies, the mission could be recovered.

The last time when NASA's Opportunity Rover communicated data to the Earth was on June 10th, 2018, when the dust storm on Mars started shaping up. "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". If Opportunity does not respond, the project team would again consult with the Mars Program Office at JPL and NASA Headquarters to determine the path forward. The images were taken between sol 5,000 and 5,006 if February 2018.

Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2003. It traveled 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers) before becoming stuck in a sand trap in late 2009. The agency tried to contact the rover as soon as the weather improved but all the attempts resulted in failure. The frigid Martian temperatures could cause irreparable damage to the rover.

There, NASA scientists hope to study what they believe are ancient lake beds that existed back when Mars had water on its surface.

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