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The Opportunity Mars rover's silent stretch has now reached four months.
Opportunity hasn't made a peep since June 10. Around that time, a developing dust storm shrouded its environs in darkness, preventing the solar-powered rover from harvesting enough sunlight to recharge its batteries.
Campaign - Two-thirds - Nothing - Robot - Clock
That campaign is now two-thirds over, and there's still been nothing from the six-wheeled robot. If the clock runs out on Opportunity, NASA will reassess its recovery plans and efforts, agency officials have said. But engineers and technicians will continue listening for a ping from Opportunity in a more passive mode at least through January, mission managers have said.
The venerable rover may be dead, done in by a combination of the darkness and the bitter Martian cold. Without any power, after all, Opportunity cannot run its onboard heaters. But there is still hope, even at this relatively late date.
Layer - Dust - Rover - Panels - Dust
"It's possible that a layer of dust deposited on the rover's solar panels by the recent global dust storm is blocking sunlight that could recharge its batteries. No one can tell just how much dust has been deposited on its panels," NASA officials...
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