Is this the end for Opportunity ? Image Credit: NASA
Things are not looking good for the stricken rover which stopped communicating following a dust storm in June.
Back in September, NASA initiated a 45-day 'active listening' campaign - a strategy that involves sending commands to the rover and listening out for any signals that it may attempt to send back.
Sadly though, the deadline for this has now passed, making it increasingly likely that Opportunity, like its sibling Spirit, may have finally met its match on the surface of Mars.
The two rovers both landed on the Red Planet in January 2004 and far outlasted their original 90-day lifespan. Spirit ran in to trouble in 2009 when it became hopelessly trapped in soft soil. It stopped communicating in March 2010 and was declared dead by NASA the following year.
Opportunity had been doing fine until earlier this year and had even achieved the record for the longest distance driven by any wheeled vehicle on another world.
After being placed in to low-power mode to help it weather a dust storm back in June however all communication was lost, leaving NASA struggling to regain contact.
As things stand, efforts to communicate with the rover will continue until January 2019.
"After a review of the progress of the listening campaign, NASA will continue its current strategy for attempting to make contact with the Opportunity rover for the foreseeable future," NASA wrote.
"Winds could increase in the next few months at Opportunity's location on Mars, resulting in dust being blown off the rover's solar panels."
"The agency will reassess the situation in the January 2019 time frame."
Source: Space.com | Comments (85)