Guest Video: Visiting Martian Volcanoes (Via Idaho)



Featured image: The largest volcanoes in the Solar System–Tharsis on June 29, 2014. ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/J. Cowart, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO


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Guest Reblog: “Opportunity Under Threat,” by The Road To Endeavour


November 15, 2018: Hopes were raised briefly of a signal, and then dashed, apparently.


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October 30, 2018: As the 45-day deadline arrives, NASA has decided to continue trying to raise Opportunity until January and then review things again.

Jason Major was just a tad pumped about this.



Per NASA’s statement, released yesterday afternoon:

After a review of the progress of the listening campaign, NASA will continue its current strategy for attempting to make contact with the Opportunity rover for the foreseeable future. Winds could increase in the next few months at Opportunity’s location on Mars, resulting in dust being blown off the rover’s solar panels. The agency will reassess the situation in the January 2019 time frame.

Per Aragorn Mr. Major:

. . . when the dust devils start whirling and twirling inside Endeavour, and winds start to whip up its slopes, the MER team will be there to takew advantage of it, shouting out Oppy’s name from Earth’s doorstep and urging her to “phone home” rather than just sitting inside with the TV on hoping to hear a plaintive call from outside…

This is a big deal, it really is. It means there is now a much better chance of cintact being re-established with Opportunity. So, good luck to all the MER team who have already worked so hard to get to this place – and best wishes to them as they continue their efforts.

What he said. Go, MER team! And Oppy, please phone home. We miss you.


October 27, 2018:

Opportunity Updates

sols 5238 to 5244, Oct. 18, 2018 – Oct. 22, 2018: Still No Signal From Opportunity

The dust storm on Mars has ended and atmospheric opacity (tau) over the rover site hovers around a typical seasonal value between 1.0 and 1.1.

No signal from Opportunity has been heard since Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018). Opportunity likely experienced a low-power fault, a mission clock fault and an up-loss timer fault. The team has been listening for the rover over a broad range of times using the Deep Space Network (DSN) Radio Science Receiver since loss of signal. In addition, more recently they have been commanding “sweep and beeps” throughout the daily DSN pass to address a possible complexity with certain conditions within mission clock fault.

Total odometry is unchanged at 28.06 miles (45.16 kilometers).



October 24, 2018: They’re certainly giving Opportunity every possible chance. C’mon, Oppy . . . phone home!

Opportunity Updates

sols 5230 to 5237, Oct. 10, 2018 – Oct. 17, 2018: Actively Listening for Opportunity

The dust storm on Mars has ended with atmospheric opacity (tau) over the rover site down to around typical values of 1.0 to 1.1.

No signal from Opportunity has been heard since Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018). Opportunity likely experienced a low-power fault, a mission clock fault and an up-loss timer fault. The team has been listening for the rover over a broad range of times using the Deep Space Network (DSN) Radio Science Receiver since loss of signal.

In addition, more recently have been commanding “sweep and beeps” throughout the daily DSN pass to address a possible complexity with certain conditions within mission clock fault.

Total odometry is unchanged at 28.06 miles (45.16 kilometers).


October 13, 2018: Not looking good, per the MER update page:

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Efforts To Communicate With Opportunity Continue – sols 5224 to 5229, Oct. 4, 2018 – Oct. 9, 2018:
The dust storm on Mars has effectively ended with atmospheric opacity (tau) over the rover site down to around 1.0 to 1.1, values are typical for storm-free conditions this time of year.

No signal from Opportunity has been heard since Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018). As stated previously, it is expected that Opportunity has experienced a low-power fault, a mission clock fault and an up-loss timer fault. The science team has been listening for the rover over a broad range of times using the Deep Space Network (DSN) Radio Science Receiver since loss of signal.

The team has been commanding “sweep and beeps” throughout their daily DSN pass. They are addressing a possible complexity with certain conditions within the mission clock fault.

Total odometry is unchanged at 28.06 miles (45.16 kilometers).


October 1, 2018: From the Mars Exploration Rover Mission status page:

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Remains Silent For Over Three Months – sols 5210 to 5216, Sept. 19, 2018 – Sept. 25, 2018:
No signal from Opportunity has been heard in over 115 sols, since Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018).

It is expected that Opportunity has experienced a low-power fault. Perhaps, a mission clock fault and an up-loss timer fault, as well. The dust storm on Mars continues to subside with atmospheric opacity (tau) over the rover site at around 1.3.

The science team has been listening for the rover over a broad range of times using the Deep Space Network (DSN) Radio Science Receiver. In addition, commanding “sweep and beeps” throughout our daily DSN pass to address a possible complexity with certain conditions within the mission clock fault.

Total odometry is 28.06 miles (45.16 kilometers.


September 26, 2018: And here is a close-up from The Road to Endeavour blog:


Phone home, Oppy!



Update, September 25, 2018: They can see Oppy, even if it remains silent:


It’s that little speck in the center of the white box, per NASA.


Update, September 22, 2018:

sols 5203 to 5209, Sept. 12, 2018 – Sept. 18, 2018: No Signal Has Been Heard From Opportunity for Nearly 100 Days

The Opportunity team is increasing the frequency of commands it beams to the rover via the dishes of NASA’s Deep Space Network from three times a week to multiple times per day.

No signal from Opportunity has been heard since Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018). That’s nearly 100 sols (days) without communication. It is expected that Opportunity has experienced a low-power fault, perhaps, a mission clock fault and an up-loss timer fault. The dust storm on Mars continues its decay with atmospheric opacity (tau) over the rover site below 1.5. The project has been listening for the rover over a broad range of times using the Deep Space Network Radio Science Receiver and commanding “sweep and beeps” to address a possible complexity with certain conditions within the mission clock fault.

Total odometry is 28.06 miles (45.16 kilometers.

NASA/MER program


September 11, 2018:

Updated at 2:45 p.m. PDT on Sept. 11, 2018

Scientists reviewing data from the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have determined that the tau estimate (a measure of the amount of haze in the Martian atmosphere) in the skies above the rover Opportunity has been below 1.5 for two consecutive measurements. With more sunlight reaching the rover’s solar array, the Opportunity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are increasing the frequency of commands it beams to the 14-plus-year-old rover via the dishes of NASA’s Deep Space Network from three times a week to multiple times per day. Passive listening for Opportunity will also continue to be performed by JPL’s Radio Science Group, which records radio signals emanating from Mars with a very sensitive broadband receiver…”

NASA


Update, September 10, 2018: Still waiting . . .


Original post:


I shared this on Twitter after reading it yesterday but gave it some thought before reblogging it here. After all, Oppy has served long past its “expiration date”; as well, NASA is under pressure–for example, reportedly, Russia won’t be carrying our astronauts up into space any more, starting next year.

But NASA is composed of human beings, who are not perfect. And people everywhere, in every line of work, make questionable decisions; they set overly ambitious goals for themselves (although, give NASA its due–that’s their business, and they usually come through, eventually). People compete. They rise up the ladder and lose touch with some basics.

It’s a part of being human.

I don’t have the knowledge to say whether the 45-day cut-off is a good thing or not; however, I do recognize that we need to reward the ability to design rovers (Spirit was a laster, too) that are even better than expected and to continue their missions as long as possible.

Hopefully, Opportunity will respond soon. But if it doesn’t, let’s give it more time. The people behind it, past and present, deserve that.

Humanity is going into space eventually. Lets bring as much of that 60s spirit of wonder and exploration with us as possible, and only what little “business as usual” mindset is absolutely necessary to keep basic operations functioning.

In the long term, that will work out best for everybody.

For background, here’s the news release that inspired the reblogged post below.


When I started writing this blog – almost ten years ago now – I thought that Opportunity had two, maybe three more years of roving ahead of her. Five at the most. She had already travelled so far, seen so much, made so many discoveries, that to expect many more years than that seemed not […]

via Opportunity Under Threat — The Road To Endeavour

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Update, 6:38 p.m., June 20, 2018:

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I think this situation with Oppy waiting out a storm has somehow made Mars very real for a lot of people who don’t usually read science news. And that’s a good thing.



Typical. TYPICAL. I go away for a week – up to the beautiful Isle of Skye to take in some museums, castles and white sandy beaches – and after virtually ignoring her for years and years the rest of the world suddenly goes crazy about Opportunity! No-one (ok, almost no-one) has cared about her for […]

via Opportunity and the 2018 Dust Storm — The Road To Endeavour



Read the whole thing. There is some good news. The rover isn’t buried in sand; it just can’t get enough sunlight for power. However, the dust may keep the extreme Martian cold temperatures from falling so low that Oppy can’t power up again. They are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Go! Oppy! And thanks, Spirit, Oppy, and their human builders and operators for this vast trove of solid information about the once-unknown “Barsoom.” (Yeah, I was a Burroughs fan as a kid.)


Reblog on Opportunity Rover and the Mars Dust Storm from The Road To Endeavour