NASA’s Opportunity Rover has defied all the chances and is celebrating her 15-year anniversary Saturday — however it’s unclear how for much longer it is going to final amid the unseasonal mud storm that has taken over 1 / 4 of Mars.
On July 7, 2003, NASA launched Opportunity to Mars, the second of the 2 rovers launched that 12 months to discover the purple planet searching for indicators of previous life. Opportunity was initially meant to be on a 90-day mission, however remains to be exploring Mars and sending back extraordinary images and intel on Mars.
Since arriving on Mars in January 2004, the 384-pound rover has made essential discoveries which have formed our understanding of Mars. Most notably, the proof that at one level, part of Mars had water for an prolonged time frame — that means the planet had the proper situations to help microbial life, a mandatory requirement for sustaining life on Earth.
The rover has additionally investigated two craters on Mars, Victoria and Endeavour, according to NASA.
Opportunity, which is powered by photo voltaic vitality, has been in hibernation for weeks following a giant dust storm swirling on Mars. According to NASA, regardless of the dearth of solar because of the storm, Opportunity was constructed to outlive excessive colds and the rover’s batteries have stayed heat sufficient to perform. NASA stated they don’t anticipate to listen to from Opportunity till the skies start to clear over the rover.
“By no means are we out of the woods here,” John Callas, the Opportunity venture supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, informed the AP. “This storm is threatening, and we don’t know how long it will last, and we don’t know what the environment will be like once it clears.”
This will not be the primary mud storm Opportunity has weathered. In 2007, the rover was capable of wait out an analogous mud storm — although it solely lasted just a few days.
But NASA stated Opportunity’s vitality ranges are a lot decrease this time. And whereas it’s unlikely that the rover will get buried by mud, the storm might cowl the optical devices on its clock that would knock it offline and trigger sign issues.
Prior to Opportunity’s brush with this mud storm, the rover was in exceptionally good situation, albeit an arthritic arm.
“Keep in mind, we’re talking about a rover that’s been working at Mars, hanging in there, for 15 years and designed just for 90 days,” Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars exploration program, informed the AP. “It just doesn’t get any better than that.”