NASA’s 45-Day Deadline For Hearing From Opportunity Has Begun

To the Opportunity team’s dismay, NASA has planned to give their old robot a 45-day deadline, writes Advocator. What does that mean?

According to their recent statement, NASA will start a campaign of active efforts in trying to restore communication with the rover.

As soon as the skies clear from the massive dust, the mission will begin. Since the beginning of June, Opportunity rover has lost contact with the team on Earth. Its solar panels couldn’t get sunlight because it was blocked by the massive Martian dust storm. The project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter explained the magnitude of the storm:

“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.”

The Opportunity project manager, John Callas, stated that in case they hear from the rover, they will start “the process of discerning its status and bringing it back online.”

The Deadline Doesn’t Do Justice: Saving #Oppy

Many people have criticized NASA’s plan to limit the active campaign to only 45 days.

A former flight director and rover driver for Opportunity, Mike Seibert, said that when Spirit stopped working, NASA’s “active listening” took ten months before giving up.

Callas stated that if Opportunity didn’t respond to the “active listening” after 45 days, it would mean that the spacecraft’s malfunctions would end its mission.

NASA associate administrator for science, Thomas Zurbuchen Tweeted that:

“We will keep trying to get our Martian friend back online. We will not give up on #Oppy even after the 45 days of plan we have put in place!”

After the 45-day campaign, the team will go through a passive listening campaign, checking from time to time for signals from the rover.

The rover has been exploring Mars for more than 5,000 days, traveling for over 45 km (28 miles).

Callas hopes the rover will respond, but concluded that they must have a “plan for all eventualities”:

“We are pulling for our tenacious rover to pull her feet from the fire one more time. And if she does, we will be there to hear her.”

Meanwhile, the nuclear-powered Curiosity rover is working as usual, unharmed by the storm.