Mars Dust Storm Clears Raising Hope For Stalled NASA Rover

With the skies clearing over Opportunity rover's resting spot in Mars, the solar-powered probe will soon receive enough sunlight to automatically initiate recovery procedures, Nasa said on Friday.

Former rover engineers like Maxwell have argued that the active listening phase should run through the end of the year, covering the portion of the Martian year where dust devils could sweep dust off the rover's solar panels, as has happened in the past. "The dust haze produced by the Martian global dust storm of 2018 is one of the most extensive on record, but all indications are it is finally coming to a close", said Rich Zurek, project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been monitoring the storm.

"The sun is breaking by the haze over Perseverance Valley, and rapidly there might be ample daylight hours contemporary that Different needs to be capable of recharge its batteries", John Callas, Different project supervisor at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, stated in a assertion.

The hashtags #SaveOppy and #WakeUpOppy have gained popularity on Twitter, with appeals to keep trying to contact the rover led by a former flight director and Earth-based rover driver for Opportunity, Mike Siebert.

Stalled in Perseverance Valley, the rover went into shutdown partly to protect itself from the dust storm and also because its power source as about to disappear. That effort addresses "the unlikely chance that there is a large amount of dust sitting on the solar arrays that is blocking the sun's energy", Callas said.

Mission controllers are already looking out to hail Different thrice per week, beaming beep-eliciting commands via the broad radio dishes of NASA's Deep Recount Network (DSN) at some stage in times when the rover would possibly also be conscious. It is hoped that when the skies clear, Opportunity will reactivate and begin her studies of Perseverance Valley once again.

The clock will start ticking for Opportunity upon the initiation of this campaign. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

According to MARCI images, the "Opportunity site have shown no active dust storms for some time within 3,000 kilometers of the rover site". Back in 2016, Opportunity was visited by one such whirlwind, which are common on the Red Planet. Such "cleaning events" were first discovered by Mars rover teams in 2004 when, on several occasions, battery power levels aboard both Spirit and Opportunity increased by several percent during a single Martian night, when the logical expectation was that they would continue to decrease. If that's the case, it will take time for Mars's winds to clear off the solar panels enough for Opportunity to recharge and be open to receiving signals.

And even though it is hobbled, having lost the use of its front steering and 256MB flash memory, not everyone is ready to give up so fast. After all, the rover was originally tasked with a 90-day mission and is still working nearly 15 years later. The rovers were created to travel about 1,000 yards, and Opportunity has logged more than 28 miles.

"In a situation like this you hope for the best but plan for all eventualities", said Callas. "And if she does, we will be there to hear her".

In its statement, NASA did not publish an updated value of tau.