Opportunity rover could be lost forever, upset NASA speculates

NASA to launch new manned Mars rovers in 2020
Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, land on opposite sides of Mars and begin exploring the planet. Since their landing, the rovers have sent more than 100,000 high-resolution, full-color images of the planet's surface. NASA

The worst fear of NASA is slowly turning true, as the space agency has recently hinted that their Mars Opportunity rover could be lost forever. It was around four months back that the red planet was hit by a raging dust storm and at that time, the rover was located on the rim of Mars' Endeavour Crater. Since then, repeated attempts of NASA to contact the rover have failed, and they now speculate that the solar-powered device may have already been dead.

After the dust storm that engulfed the entire planet, the skies became clear on mid-September, and since then, the United States space agency was busy with a six-week listening program to establish the lost contact with the rover. However, this initiative to obtain data from the rover has not apparently fetched the desired results, and scientists are now planning to stop this effort in the coming days.

Last week, Dr Lori Glaze, acting director of Nasa's planetary science division had revealed that NASA's attempts to restore contact with the Opportunity rover will be only continued for another week or two. Glaze also added that the batteries of the little rover might be getting weakened due to the cold Martian conditions.

"It's been a rollercoaster of emotions the last couple of days. We're all just trying to do what we believe is right," said Mike Staab, a systems engineer at the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Daily Mail reports.

Last month, NASA had revealed that they have precisely spotted the Opportunity rover on the Martian surface. NASA obtained the images using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which snapped Opportunity as a silent little dot on the surface of the red planet.

For NASA, Opportunity rover is one of their most successful exploration devices sent to space. During the time of its launch in 2004, experts believed that it would last only for 90 days in the Martian surface due to the extremely cold temperatures and frequent dust storms. However, exceeding all the expectations, the Opportunity rover served NASA for nearly 15 years.

This article was first published on October 30, 2018