NASA’s $400M Mars Opportunity should not be lost after all

About 11 months before the current dust storm enveloped the rover, Opportunity, took five images that were transformed into a mosaic shows a view from the upper end of “Perseverance Valley” on the inner slope of Endeavour Crater from the west rim. The photos were taken on July 7, 2017. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The huge dust storm on Mars, that caused NASA to lose contact with the Opportunity rover is the disposal, giving new hope that the $400 million space vehicle may not be lost after all.

In Aug. 30 blog post, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) wrote that the skies clear up, which means that the batteries of the rover should start to charge. The rover went dark after a dust storm that began in mid-June, the entire planet.

“The Sun breaks through the haze about Perseverance Valley, and soon there will be enough sunlight is present, that Opportunity should be able to load the batteries on to charge,” said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at JPL, in the statement.


Callas added: “When the tau level [a measure of the amount of fine dust in the Martian air] dips below 1.5, we will begin a period of active attempts to communicate with the rover by sending the commands through the antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network. Assuming that we hear back from Opportunity, we will begin the process of discerning its status and bring it back online.”

Earlier this month, NASA, which is to continue to listen for signs and pinging of the rover three times per week, admittedly it may never hear back from the rover as the batteries were inactive for too long, letting too much power.

Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam) took the component images for this view from a position outside of Endeavor Crater during the span of 7 June to 19 June 2017. To the right of this scene is a wide notch in the top of the western edge of the crater.

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ. )

“Even if engineers hear back from Chance, there is a real possibility that the rover will not be the same,” NASA-JPL Andrew Good wrote in the Aug. 16 blog post. “The rover’s battery can be discharged so much power and idle remained so long that their capacity is reduced. If the batteries cannot charge so much, it can affect the rover from continuing operations.”

This sentiment was reflected in the Aug. 30 post, with NASA with the writing of “there is no certainty that the rover will be operational.” The impact of the storm on Chance systems is still unknown and unforeseen, but could make it difficult for the rover to be fully back online.”

Despite that, Well-expressed optimism in a time, where the batteries were in “good health” for the storm, so degradation was not likely to be a problem. Nor was the dust the storm, with the substance, or barn of the cameras or calibrated.


That said, the clock is ticking for the Opportunity rover to make contact. “If we do not hear back after 45 days, the team will be forced to conclude that the Sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold have conspired to create a debt which the rover will more than likely not recover”, said Kallas.

Callas further added: “At that point our active phase of the reach of the Chance of an end. However, in the unlikely chance that there is a large amount of dust on the solar panels, that is blocking the energy of the Sun, we will remain passive listening efforts for a number of months.”

Outgoing NASA gives a signal of Opportunity, a Good warned earlier this month there may be a delay of a few weeks after the NASA hear back a second time, comparing it to a patient from a coma. “It can be some communication for engineers have enough information to take action,” he wrote.


Ability history

The Opportunity rover, which was originally intended to be on the Red Planet for a 90-day mission has a number of ground-breaking discoveries throughout his now 15-year journey, in the first instance, leaving the Earth on 7 July 2003.

Up to now, has detected signs of water, explored the inside of the two craters and completed a marathon — the first vehicle to do this on another planet.

But the Likelihood travel is not always a smooth one.

In 2005, the rover lost the use of one of the front wheels and got stuck in a thick pile of sand for about five weeks, according to When it finally managed to move, ran into a sand dune. In 2007, a dust storm hit and allegedly cut the spacecraft’s power to “a dangerously low level.” A month later, then back on and began exploring the Victoria Crater.

Despite the obstacles, the Opportunity is always there managed to survive. But this time, the researchers don’t know for sure what will happen.

In the meantime, scientists are trying to stay positive, making a Mars-themed Spotify playlist with “Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go” by Wham!, “Rocket Man” by Elton John, among others — and an office pool to help pass the time.

“In a situation like this, you hope for the best, but plan for all eventualities,” Callas closed. “We are pulling for our tenacious rover and pulling her feet from the fire one more time. And if she does, we will be there to hear her.”

Fox News’ Jennifer Earl contributed to this report. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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