Save This Opportunity #SaveOppy #WakeUpOppy

In a nutshell, it’s like this…

The Mars rover, Opportunity, is powered by solar panels. One of the worst dust storms in observed Martian history has been raging for months, blotting out the Sun and causing Opportunity to run out of power. The last time it was heard from was June.

NASA administrators want to declare the rover dead, but they will undertake some measures to try and revive the rover first. They plan to wait until the opacity of the dust reduces to a certain level, then send it occasional wake up commands followed by listening passes and do this over a period of 45 days. After that they will begin a passive listening phase until January when they will declare the rover dead and reassign the team to other projects.

The problem is that there are experts who claim that this plan does not give the rover sufficient opportunity (see what I did there?) to recover from the storm. Earlier this week, social media efforts called #SaveOppy and #WakeUpOppy pushed administrators to extend the active contact phase from 30 days to 45 days. But experts say that when the atmospheric dust storm calms, the dust will settle on the solar panels. After that, there is a period of strong surface winds that they say will blow the dust off. These winds, like the atmospheric dust storms, are regular annual events. This year the surface winds are predicted to run from November through January.

When Opportunity’s sister rover, Spirit, became stuck in the sand back in April of 2009, in a position where its solar panels could not get adequate light during the winter to keep vital components from freezing, NASA made every effort to save the rover. Experts now say that the plan for this crisis with Opportunity doesn’t go near as far as the efforts to recover Spirit. Spirit was declared dead about a year later.

Now these experts, who are risking their careers bucking NASA administration on this issue…are going to the public and asking us to help.

If you use Twitter, please use the hashtags #SaveOppy and #WakeUpOppy to join in on the discussion, Maybe Opportunity is dead, maybe she isn’t, but those people who know her and Mars best say that they can’t be sure if active wake-up calls end in November.

~ by Bill Housley on September 1, 2018.

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