The team also knows that everything about the rover is well beyond its warranty period - both Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, were constructed for 90-day missions (Spirit lasted 20 times longer and Opportunity is going on 60 times).
Those now working on the Opportunity mission are also disappointed and surprised by the 45-day limit to listening efforts, according to project sources not authorized to speak on the record. On 4 August, NASA engineers played Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" to the rover, but apparently not even the campy pizazz of George Michael and company could restart it. The website later collated a Spotify playlist of the songs that NASA are playing to the Rover in this most long-distance of serenades.
"The Sun is breaking through the haze over Perseverance Valley, and soon there will be enough sunlight present that Opportunity should be able to recharge its batteries", John Callas, Opportunity project manager at JPL, said in a statement.
"Assuming that we hear back from Opportunity, we all begins he process of dswcverign its status and bringing it back online".
Scientists have a particular interest in Perseverance Valley as it features landscapes which were possibly carved by flowing water.
The solar-powered Opportunity was trudging through Mars' Perseverance Valley when the storm struck. His career includes working for NASA, Astrogeology Headquarters of the United States Geological Survey, the Mars Spaceflight Facility located at Arizona State University and the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory located at the University of Arizona. They haven't heard from him since June 10th and they're anxious this last storm may have killed off the bot that could. "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.
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"Images of the Opportunity site have shown no active dust storm for some time within 3,000 kilometres (or 1,900 miles) of the rover site". The objective of the rover is to move gradually and to make scientific observations.
"If we perform now not hear attend after forty five days, the team might be forced to develop that the sun-blocking mud and the Martian frosty enjoy conspired to cause some kind of fault from which the rover will extra than likely now not obtain successfully", Callas stated. However, it's also possible that other conditions during the dust storm damaged critical components of Opportunity, and the rover has, in fact, reached its final resting place.
In that case, the team will continue passive listening efforts for several months, with the help of JPL Radio, which will scour the signal records taken by a very sensitive broadband receiver of radio frequencies emanating from Mars, looking for a sign that the rover is trying to reach out.
For example, a Martian dust devil could come along, blowing the dust off the rover's solar arrays.
Martian dust storms are common, and can be more easily whipped up there than on Earth because Mars has a thinner atmosphere. A dust devil could only revive the vehicle if a buildup of dust is the reason it has stopped moving. But a soft deadline to hear back from the silent rover has been imposed by mission managers. Its 256-megabyte flash memory no longer works and it front steering gave out back in June 2017.
Yet the rover has proven far more durable than scientists ever hoped. Both rovers were created to operate for just 90 days, however, and exceeded expectations.