Foreign object found by Mars rover a rock flake NASA

19 Août, 2018, 20:19 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • NASA Mars rover Opportunity Rover

At the beginning of the week, NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover spotted something unusual on the red Martian landscape.

Low-power fault: engineers assume the rover went into low-power fault shortly after it stopped communicating on June 10. The storm is subsiding and now NASA is playing a tense waiting game to see if the vehicle will come out alive and rolling.

The Opportunity rover, which was initially meant to only be on the Red Planet for a 90-day mission, has made several groundbreaking discoveries throughout its now roughly 15-year trip, initially leaving Earth on July 7, 2003.

While the extended silence is worrisome, NASA says "there's reason to be optimistic". That could delay a recovery of the rover as it gathers energy to recharge its batteries. Another important factor is that the place where Opportunity is now parked is going through its summer, so scientists have estimated that the rover might not have indeed suffered a cold death and stayed warm enough to survive the lack of sunlight.

Side-by-side movies shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The Opportunity team pings the machine several times each week and listens for a response. NASA is also listening for radio signals from Mars that could be coming from the rover. Like a recovering coma patient, It could take time to get back on track and recover fully, notes the report.

Once they've gathered all this data, the team would take a poll about whether they're ready to attempt a full recovery.

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The first thing to do is learn more about the state of the rover.

Now here's the potentially scarier part.

NASA's Opportunity Rover remains missing and unreachable on Thursday, said NASA scientists.

There is a real possibility that the massive dust storm on Mars has damaged the rover too much and that its batteries have had their capacities drastically reduced due to discharging so much power and staying inactive for so long.

"Even if engineers hear back from Opportunity, there's a real possibility the rover won't be the same", Good wrote in an August 16 blog post. And so we wait.


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