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US News Why Nasa has lost contact with its Opportunity rover on Mars

19:35  14 june  2018
19:35  14 june  2018 Source:   theweek.co.uk

NASA's Opportunity Rover Has Been Knocked Out as a Giant Dust Storm Envelops Mars

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News Brief: NASA ’s Opportunity rover on Mars has lost touch with its handlers back on Earth, probably due to a low-power condition brought on by a chokingly thick dust storm. The storm is covering an area of 14 million square miles, or a quarter of the Red Planet

Both Opportunity and its companion rover Spirit were launched towards Mars in 2003, landing on two different parts of the planet in January 2004. And NASA eventually decided to let it go, ceasing all communications with it in 2011. But Opportunity has kept trucking, even through some not

 Video: NASA Finds What May Be the Best Evidence Yet of Life on Mars (Provided by Bloomberg)

Nasa has lost contact with its Opportunity rover on Mars after an “unprecedented” dust storm engulfed the planet.  

The little robot, which has been on Mars since the start of 2004, requires sunlight to charge its batteries, The Independent reports. But with the vast dust storm covering about a quarter of the planet for the past two weeks, the rover has run out of power.

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NASA 's Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity rover , is the largest and most advanced robotic explorer that has ever been sent to Mars . After getting stuck in Martian sand and losing contact with Earth, Spirit was officially declared dead in May 2011.

NASA 's senior Mars rover , Opportunity , is departing "Cape Tribulation," a crater-rim segment it has explored since late 2014, southbound for its next destination, "Perseverance Valley."

Although the storm is only expected to last for a few days, it could be months until the machine’s solar panels absorb enough energy to begin transmitting data back to Earth, the news site adds. 

Why Nasa has lost contact with its Opportunity rover on Mars © Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS Why Nasa has lost contact with its Opportunity rover on Mars

“By no means are we out of the woods here,” Opportunity project manager John Callas said yesterday. “This storm is threatening and we don't know how long it will last, and we don't know what the environment will be like once it clears.”

Mission controllers at the US space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, lost contact with the rover on Tuesday evening, according to The Guardian. 

The storm was first detected by Nasa on 30 May, but grew at an extraordinary rate and quickly engulfed the rover in thick clouds of dust. 

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When NASA 's Opportunity rover launched on July 7th, 2003, expectations were modest. It would… The two of them have conducted some incredible science in their tour of duty (even if we lost contact with Spirit back in March of 2010)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA )'s Mars rover Opportunity was originally designed to trundle only one kilometer.. Opportunity , along with its twin Spirit, landed on Mars in 2004. NASA lost contact with Spirit in 2010.

Nasa’s far newer Mars rover, called Curiosity, is powered by a nuclear reactor and therefore does not need sunlight to stay powered up. 

Slideshow: Spectacular photos from space (Provided by Microsoft ICE)


Despite its current power outage, the Opportunity rover has more than exceeded initial expectations during its 14-year stint on the red planet. 

According to the BBC, the droid was only designed to work for 90 days yet is still going, although it can only move in reverse and its robotic arm, used to examine rocks, is “arthritic”.

Prior to the storm, Opportunity had been exploring the Perseverance Valley on the western rim of Mars, in a bid to work out whether the valley was formed by water or wind. 

Nasa hopes to continue the mission when, or if, it regains contact with the robot.

Slideshow: The surface of Mars (Provided by Reuters)

The base of Mars Mount Sharp is pictured in this NASA handout photo taken by the Curiosity rover.: The base of Mars' Mount Sharp. The surface of Mars

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