NASA Attempting To Reconnect With Mars Opportunity Rover After Sandstorm

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 3:02pm
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 3:03pm

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NASA
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Opportunity looking eastward shortly before sunset on the 3,609th Martian day, of the rover's work on Mars on March 20, 2014.

One of NASA's famous Mars rovers might be in trouble.

Opportunity — or "Oppy," as those who work with her call her — was intended to go up to Mars for just a 90-day mission, but she’s lasted more than 14 years.

But, a few months ago, Oppy went radio silent after it was hit by a big a major, planet-encircling dust storm.

Currently, the team's not sure what happened and they've been attempting to reestablish contact since the incident.

But now, the stakes are even higher. Last week, the rover’s team here on Earth was given a deadline.

If they don't hear back in the next 45 days “the team will be forced to conclude that the Sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold have conspired to cause some type of fault from which the rover will more than likely not recover.”

Basically, if they don’t hear in that time they’ll switch to what’s called passive listening mode. While that doesn't mean they're entirely giving up on Oppy, it sure feels that way to a lot of people.

Dr. Tanya Harrison, the director of research for Arizona State University's Space Technology and Science Initiative is a collaborator on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. She’s actually one of the first people who got to see images that returned to Earth from the rover.

She has spoken out about the deadline and joined in a growing social media campaign to #SaveOppy.

Harrison also mentioned that Oppy lost contact while she was travelling through a place called Perseverance Valley. And, Harrison believes, the little rover will be able to persevere.

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