Saturday, 23 February, 2019

NASA About to Pull Plug on Mars Rover, Silent for 8 Months

Opportunity's record-setting mission on Mars appears to have reached its end An artist's impression of Opportunity on Mars. The NASA rover has traveled more than 28 miles on Mars since arriving in January 2004
Theresa Hayes | 13 February, 2019, 23:25

The rover is feared to have been killed in a dust storm which engulfed the whole of Mars in June past year.

USA space agency NASA is to hold a briefing today at United Kingdom time 7 pm, in which it is to officially announce the Mars Opportunity Rover mission "dead".

NASA has finally plugged the plug on its Mars Opportunity rover, which has been silent on the Red Planet's surface for eight months. The golf-cart-sized rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning airbags.

NASA is trying one last time to contact its record-setting Mars rover Opportunity, before calling it quits.

Scientist Abigail Fraeman was 16 years old when she first witnessed a rover landing on Mars.

Opportunity set records on the Red Planet.

Opportunity was easily the longest-lasting lander on Mars, despite being created to last just 90 days, and also set a roaming record of 45 kilometres before coming to rest, somewhat fittingly, in Perseverance Valley. Flight controllers sent more than 1,000 recovery commands, all in vain.

"It's just like a loved one who's gone missing, and you keep holding out hope that they will show up and that they're healthy", he said.

NASA launched the Opportunity rover as part of its Mars Exploration Rover program in 2004.

"But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say "enough" and move on with your life".

NASA is saying farewell to its Opportunity rover on Mars after having been out of communication with the robot for about a year. It was supposed to last for 90 here we are 15 years later.

Global dust storms tend to happen every few years and "we had gone a long time without one".

Opportunity's mission has led to many discoveries about the Red Planet, but perhaps the most exciting was when Opportunity found evidence that Mars once had water and supported conditions for sustaining microbial life. The last such major storm occurred in 2007, which sent NASA's rovers into a "hunker down" mode for several weeks before the skies cleared.

Despite NASA engineers' best efforts to get a response via radio channels, its last communication was on June 10, 2018 after more than 600 attempts since August.

The scientist said the machine "has given us a larger world".

The storm may have scrambled the rover's internal clock, NASA explained on Wednesday, meaning that the rover would not know when to sleep, wake up, or receive commands.

"Mars is now part of our neighbourhood", he added.