Nasa set to declare Mars rover ‘dead’
Opportunity rover has not been heard from in eight months following massive dust storm
Nasa is preparing to make one last attempt to contact Mars rover Opportunity, before officially declaring it dead.
The Mars rover team lost contact with Opportunity more than eight months ago, when a global dust storm enveloped the red planet for several months, blocking sunlight from the rover’s solar panels.
Scientists have sent more than 1,000 recovery commands to Opportunity, but they are yet to receive a response from the exploratory craft, The Daily Telegraph reports.
“It’s just like a loved one who’s gone missing, and you keep holding out hope that they will show up and that they're healthy,” project manager John Callas said. “But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say 'enough' and move on with your life.”
Engineers believe the rover’s internal clock “may have become scrambled during the prolonged outage”, disrupting its power cycle and draining its batteries, the ABC says.
Launched in 2003, Opportunity was initially sent to undertake a 90-day mission, however it lasted far beyond expectations, continuing to operate for more than 15 years.