NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity has been in action since 2004 exploring Mars and beaming back images from the Red Planet. While the images from the famed Endeavour Crater are still fresh in memory, the Rover Opportunity has been embattled by a raging dust storm that threatened to overwhelm Rover Opportunity.
The storm that stretched for close to three months beginning in the end of May has fortunately abated. During this period the batteries of Opportunity that are recharged from the rays of the sun, were unable to receive adequate sunlight, resulting in the Rover losing power on June 10. While the dust storms have cleared, it will be some time before the Rover gets back in action. The storm was unprecedented, massive and intensive, engulfing the whole planet in less than a month since it was triggered. While NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in California is hopeful of the robot spluttering back to life, the engineers have resorted to playing out songs in an effort to get the Rover back in action.
Michael Staab, program engineer at JPL recounted that this is the first time in the Rover’s deployment that it has not resumed communications as expected after a brief lull. Support has been pouring for the Rover from social media users across the globe. More than 2000 postcards have been shared extending support to the Rover, with the JPL team also building a themed playlist that will be played in the control room at the break of every Martian day. A day in Mars is a tad lengthier that an Earth day, by 37 minutes, and engineers are unsure if the Rover would eventually re-establish communication with the control room.
Though hopes soared when the dust storm cleared, the Rover is yet to show signs of its batteries recharging enough for restoring communications. Michael was optimistic, hoping that it would be nice if it took a matter of weeks for the robot to splutter back into life and not months. The team and the world are hoping that his words come true and that the Rover gets back to what it is doing best, beaming images back to earth in style, as it roams the Red Planet.