There may yet be hope that NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars could wake up, Gizmodo reported.
Opportunity has been in hibernation since a massive dust storm on the red planet on 10 June, and engineers believe that a layer of dust may be preventing the rover’s solar panels from recharging its battery.
However, a windy period that the Opportunity team calls “dust-clearing season” is set to begin in November. The winds that blow during this period have previously helped clean the rover’s solar panels.
“NASA hasn’t set any deadlines for the mission but will be briefed later this month on the progress and prospects for the recovery campaign being carried out at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,” a recent update on the NASA website states.
“JPL engineers are employing a combination of listening and commanding methods in case Opportunity is still operational.”
The Opportunity rover has been operating on the Martian surface for almost 15 years, exceeding its expected lifespan many times over.
Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, were designed to last only 90 days on the Martian surface, with the expectation that the planet’s extreme winters and dust storms would cut their mission short.