It’s been a quiet summer time for engineers in NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover program. Indeed, it has been greater than two months since they’ve heard from the area company’s Opportunity rover, which misplaced energy throughout a large Martian dust storm in June. Engineers are fearful about the risk that Opportunity is misplaced for good, however have not misplaced all hope but.
This week, reports surfaced claiming that engineers have turned to another approach to wake up Oppy although: music—particularly, utilizing songs resembling Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” and Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Sadly, that is not true, though engineers have been turning to music to carry their spirits a bit in the management room.
Andrew Good, a media relations spokesperson at NASA, informed Salon this declare was taken out of context from a Space.com story wherein engineer Michael Staab was quoted as saying that the engineers have been playing music in the management room. Playing a “wake-up” tune in the management room reportedly dates again to Opportunity’s earlier days.
“They don’t actually send this music across space during the Opportunity listening periods,” Good defined in an e mail. “They just play different songs themed around listening, or waking up, etc. Even if they were sending music across space, it’s not like this music would do anything to the rover.”
In case you’re not up to pace with Opportunity’s summer time, a uncommon climate occasion on Mars put it in an compromised place. The rover, which touched down on Mars in January 2004, receives its energy from the solar — not like the car-size Curiosity rover, which is powered by a plutonium radiothermal generator, or RTG. In June, the uncommon Martian mud storm blackened out the solar, and that induced Opportunity’s energy provide to drop steadily: from 645 watt-hours, to 345, and eventually to merely 22 watt-hours — “little more than what a large iPhone’s battery holds,” as Salon’s Keith A. Spencer has noted.
Opportunity has skilled astounding success in its tenure. In its early days, it could have been unthinkable to think about the place it’s immediately. Its twin, Spirit, bumped into problems in 2009 and ceased communications completely in 2010. The rover has exceeded its deliberate 90-day mission by virtually 15 years. This is the first time it has not resumed communication as engineers anticipated.
This historical past of resilience in the face of hazard, whereas maybe attributing human qualities to a machine, has saved many optimistic about Opportunity’s probability at survival. In a weblog replace on Thursday, scientists expressed their enduring optimism.
“They’ve performed several studies on the state of its batteries before the storm, and temperatures at its location. Because the batteries were in relatively good health before the storm, there’s not likely to be too much degradation,” the assertion defined. “And because dust storms tend to warm the environment — and the 2018 storm happened as Opportunity’s location on Mars entered summer — the rover should have stayed warm enough to survive.”
In excellent news, the huge mud storm has confirmed indicators of slowing down. In NASA’s replace on Aug. 7, the company reported:
There are indications that the atmospheric opacity may be reducing over the Opportunity web site. Since the final contact with the rover on Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018), Opportunity has seemingly skilled a low-power fault and maybe, a mission-clock fault. Additionally, the up-loss timer has additionally since expired, leading to one other fault situation.
“Dust-lifting sites have decreased and surface features are starting to emerge,” the report acknowledged.
The science staff at NASA continues to hear on daily basis for the Opportunity, as well as to sending a command 3 times every week “to elicit a beep if the rover occurs to be awake.”
Earthbound listeners seemingly gained’t hear something from Opportunity, nonetheless, till the mud actually settles.
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