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NASA about pull plugs on Mars rover, quiet for 8 months



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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – NASA tries one last time to contact record-setting Mars Rover Opportunity, before calling it go away. [19659013] The rover was quiet for eight months, the victim of one of the most severe dust storms in the decades. The strong dust in the sky was reduced last summer and, within a few months, sunlight was blocked by the solar panels of the spacecraft.

NASA said Tuesday will release a final series of healing commands, more than 1,000 shipped. If no response to Wednesday – where NASA suspects will be the case – Opportunity is declared dead, 15 years after arriving on the red planet.

The team members look back at Opportunity's achievements, including water confirmation once flowing to Mars. Opportunity is, right now, the longest-term lander on Mars. Aside from patience, six-wheel rover sets a roaming record of 28 miles (45 kilometers.)


The same twin, Spirit, was pronounced dead in 2011, one year after it was removed from the sand and stopped communication.



Both outlived and outperformed expectations, on the opposite side of Mars. The rovers of the golf cart size were designed to run as geologists in just three months, after climbing our planetary neighbors in the cushioning air bags in January 2004. They rocketed from Cape Canaveral one month apart from 2003.

Opportunity is far easier to say, than the Spirit, project manager John Callas told the Associated Press.

"Just as a loved one is missing, and you continue to offer the hope that they will show and that they are healthy," he said. "But every day goes down, and at some point you must say 'enough' and continue in your life."

Deputy project scientist Abigail Fraeman was a 16-year-old high school student when Opportunity reached Mars; he is inside the control center as part of an outreach program. Inspired, Fraeman became a planetary scientist, joining NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and graduated as a representative scientific project for Opportunity. "It gives you an idea of ​​how long this mission is," he said. . "Opportunity has become a workhorse … it's really a testament, I think, how well the mission was designed and how careful the automobile team was."

Instead of looking at the dust storm as a bad luck, Callas considers it a "good luck that we have given many possible storms over the years." Global dust storms are usually kick up every few years, and "we've been away for a long time without one." Unlike NASA's nuclear-powered Curiosity rover still chugging along with The Mars, Opportunity and Spirit was never designed to withstand such bad weather.


Steve Cornquel, Cornell University's leading scientist for Opportunity and Spirit, considers a fierce storm that is a "noble way" to lose missions.

"You could have lost a lot of money over Year-based Opportunities," Squyres told AP Tuesday.

The greatest gift of rovers, according to Squyres, provides a geologic record in two different areas where water flows once in March

NASA heard the last chance from Opportunity on June 10. Tested airplane managers arouse the rover, creates and sends the command after the command, every month. Eventually, the Martian sky was cleaned for daylight to reach the solar panels of the rover, but no response yet. Today is cooler and darker on Mars, especially dimming prospects.


Engineers think that internal rover clocks can be parched during long periods of time, which breaks the rover's sleep cycle and draining on-board batteries. It is even more frustrating, according to Callas, who does not know why Opportunity – or Spirit – has failed.

Now in Curiosity and the newcomer InSight lander to bring the legacy, he said, with the spacecraft in orbit around Mars.

Like Opportunity, "It gave us a bigger world," Callas said. "Mars is now part of our neighborhood."

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The Department of Health and Science Associates receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


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