NASA continues to attempt to contact Opportunity
With this panoramic photograph, the device noted its 11-year stay on Mars.
The NASA Space Agency does not abandon its vehicles, which have fallen into difficult conditions, to their fate. Instead, the organization until the last tries, if not to restore the work of the problem system, then at least to establish a connection with it. Now this is the case with the Opportunity rover - the connection with it was lost in June 2018, but scientists do not give up.
Representatives of the agency hope that the device can still be "alive". Now, Opportunity team members are sending a new command set to the rover, which may help to communicate with the rover.
In the silent rover began to play after a global dust storm arose on Mars. Suddenly, from a relatively insignificant amount, it reached a planetary scale, so not only Opportunity was affected, but also Curiosity. And if the latter continues to work, then Opportunity has not shown signs of life.
He continued to remain silent and after the storm had subsided and the atmosphere of Mars became transparent again. New teams will be sent again and again, the cycle will work for several weeks.
“We have different methods for communicating with the rover,” saysone of the representatives of the Opportunity team. The new strategy developed by NASA may help the rover to send news to Earth. This will be a simple "beep" signal, but if it is sent, scientists will understand that Opportunity is working.
“Over the past few months, we have tried to connect with the rover more than 600 times. Despite the fact that so far no confirmation has been received that the system is alive, and the likelihood of this is decreasing with each passing day, we will continue to work, ”the agency said.
It may well be that the rover has failed the main radio module, which is used to communicate with the Earth. It is also possible that the second module has failed. Another possible cause of problems is the failure of the system time. The on-board computer just doesn’t know what time it is.
Attempts of scientists are calculated on the fact that the new teams will help turn on the secondary radio module, restart and properly set the clock and send a signal from the rover to Earth using the VHF radio signal.
Hope of scientists from NASA is warming, they believe that the approaching "season of the winds", during which dust blown off the solar panels of the device, can help revitalize the system. If there is a lot of dust on the batteries, then this may be the cause of the problem - the rover simply does not produce enough energy, it is not enough even for the most important systems.
Before shutting down, the rover produced 22 Wh of energy, which was enough to maintain minimal functionality. The rover could not work, the systems were in sleep mode. Sometimes the device “woke up” to assess its condition and give a signal. Last year, scientists showed the fear that if electricity is produced less than a certain amount, then the rover will eventually fall asleep.
Moreover, the temperature on Mars is quite low. And if Opportunity has no energy, then some sensitive system components can be disabled. Apparently, this happened, despite the presence of plutonium elements with a capacity of about 1 watt each.
The rover has been working on Mars for 15 years. Despite the fact that he had failed two wheels and almost did not work the manipulator, the device continued to fulfill its mission and provided scientists with important data. If there were no sandstorm, it may well be that Opportunity would work without problems now. His solar cells for 15 years almost did not degrade, and could produce 85% of the energy required for work volume.
Now scientists from NASA operate two vehicles located on Mars. The first is Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet in 2012. It still works without critical problems. The second unit is InSight, a lander, which landed on the surface of a neighbor of the Earth last year. There are still three orbiters: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and MAVEN.