Found! NASA's Orbiter Has Spotted the Unresponsive Mars Opportunity Rover

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 - 10:27AM
Space
Mars
Wednesday, 26 September 2018 - 10:27AM
Found! NASA's Orbiter Has Spotted the Unresponsive Mars Opportunity Rover
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Image Credit: Composite adapted from NASA/JPL and Pixabay
It has been a few months since NASA lost its $400 million Opportunity Rover to a dust storm on Mars, but at least now they have a picture to remember it by. Tech Crunch reports that now that the dust storm is clearing on the Red Planet, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) was able to snap some photos last week over Perseverance Valley where the rover was stationed. In them you can kind of make out the still sleeping (or possibly dead) rover. To be honest it just looks like a speck of something, but NASA insists that it's the robot they're been looking for.



The images were taken using the MRO's HiRISE high-resolution camera on September 20 and posted to NASA's JPL site yesterday. The space agency reports that at at the time the photo was taken, the measurement of how much sunlight is reaching the planet's surface (known as tau) was 1.3, compared to measurements over 10 when the storm was still raging. Andrew Good of JPL says that the team increased the frequency of signals sent to the rover last week in hopes that the it would respond now that the dust is clearing, but there could be one major roadblock. "The HiRISE image shows some reddening of the surrounding area, suggesting dust fallout, but it is not possible to determine how much dust is on the arrays themselves," Good wrote. "As the dusty sky continues to clear, the frequent commanding will continue and imaging will be repeated."

If the Opportunity Rover's batteries are completely depleted, then there is no way the machine will wake from its long nap, even if the arrays are free of dust. NASA is hopeful that there is still some juice left to get the rover going, otherwise it will have to stay there until the settlers come.


Science
NASA
Space
Mars
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