•   
  •   

Money NASA loses contact with Mars rover in huge dust storm

15:32  14 june  2018
15:32  14 june  2018 Source:   cbsnews.com

Life on Mars? Rover's Latest Discovery Puts It 'On the Table'

  Life on Mars? Rover's Latest Discovery Puts It 'On the Table' The identification of organic molecules in rocks on the red planet does not necessarily point to life there, past or present, but does indicate that some of the building blocks were present.Scientists for the first time have confidently identified on Mars a collection of carbon molecules used and produced by living organisms.

NASA 's Opportunity Mars rover has dropped out of contact with Earth after a huge dust storm blocked the sun, preventing the solar-powered rover from recharging its batteries, mission managers said Wednesday. The rover , 14 years past its original 90-day design life

NASA ’s Opportunity rover braves huge dust storm on Mars as - allamericansthings.com. If everyone could just send a little love to @ MarsRovers © NASA 061218-oppy.jpg NASA 's Opportunity Mars rover has dropped out of contact with Earth after a huge dust storm blocked the sun, preventing

An artist's concept of NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, now blanketed by a huge dust storm that has knocked it out of contact with Earth.: 061218-oppy.jpg© NASA 061218-oppy.jpg NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has dropped out of contact with Earth after a huge dust storm blocked the sun, preventing the solar-powered rover from recharging its batteries, mission managers said Wednesday. The rover, 14 years past its original 90-day design life, has powered down everything but its master clock.

Engineers are optimistic Opportunity will survive its trial by dust, but given its age and their emotional attachment to the hardy robot, they will not rest easy until skies clear enough for power levels to rise, allowing the rover to finally phone home.

"This team has a very strong bond with the rover, a very tight emotional connection with it," said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "And we're concerned about it, obviously.

Building Blocks of Life Found on Mars

  Building Blocks of Life Found on Mars Two landmark discoveries reveal organic carbon on the red planet, shaping the future hunt for life on Mars.This engineering marvel, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, has revolutionized our understanding of the red planet. And thanks to the intrepid rover, we now know that ancient Mars had carbon-based compounds called organic molecules—key raw materials for life as we know it.

A vast dust storm blanketing about a quarter of the surface of Mars has threatened NASA ’s Opportunity rover , plunging the solar-powered vehicle into what the space agency has described as a “dark, perpetual night.” With its primary energy source obscured, the rover

THE RED PLANET — NASA lost contact with their Mars -based Opportunity robot this week after a massive dust storm set about its position on Mars . Subscribe to

"It's like you have a loved one in a coma in the hospital, the doctors are telling you you've just got to give it time and she'll wake up. ... But if it's your 97-year old grandmother, you're going to be very concerned. And so we are."

First detected May 30, the dust storm has been growing rapidly and is now expected to encircle the entire planet in the next two or three days.

When the storm was first detected, Opportunity's batteries were delivering 645 watthours of energy as it explored a channel-like depression in the rim of a large crater. Two days later, as the storm intensified and spread, energy levels had dropped to 345 watthours and the day after, to 133.

The steadily dropping power levels forced mission managers to suspend science operations on June 8. Two days later, a final transmission came in from Opportunity showing the energy level had dropped to just 22 watthours, which would be expected to trigger a low-power fault mode in which everything but the mission clock is turned off.

NASA Curiosity Rover Finds Building Blocks of Life on Mars

  NASA Curiosity Rover Finds Building Blocks of Life on Mars The robot, which has been exploring Mars for almost six years, discovered new organic compounds and cycles of methane that could point to life on Mars.One possible biosignature on Mars-or a sign leading to potential biosigantures-is the presence of organic compounds. Almost all molecules containing carbon are organic compounds, and these molecular structures are frequently produced and consumed by living organisms. There are other ways to produce organic compounds, so they are not a smoking gun for life-but they are an awfully good sign.

NASA has lost communication with its Opportunity Mars rover , which is stuck in a dust storm encircling the entire planet. NASA scientists hope that once the

Opportunity, the longest-running Mars rover , is currently in a bad spot. It's smack in the middle of an intensifying dust storm , where fine particles of dust as thin as talcum powder billow so thickly that they block out the Sun. NASA researchers put it in a power-saving mode last week , suspending science

An attempt to contact Opportunity Tuesday was not successful.

a lit up building at night: The opacity of the martian atmosphere where the Opportunity rover is parked is illustrated in these simulated images, starting with a brilliant sun in an essentially clear sky at far left to a dark sky in which the sun is virtually blocked out at the far right.© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. The opacity of the martian atmosphere where the Opportunity rover is parked is illustrated in these simulated images, starting with a brilliant sun in an essentially clear sky at far left to a dark sky in which the sun is virtually blocked out at the far right.

Callas said the dust storm had essentially turned day into night for Opportunity as the opacity of the atmosphere, a measure of how effectively the dust is blocking out sunlight, climbed to record levels. A major 2007 dust storm had an opacity level, or tau, above 5.5 while the current storm had an estimated tau of nearly 11 as of June 6

In low-power fault mode, Opportunity's master clock is programmed to wake up the flight computer periodically to check the battery charge but if it's not sufficient, the computer will put itself back to sleep and the clock will set another alarm to wake it back up for another check.

Mars will come closer to Earth in the coming weeks than it has been in 15 years -- here's how to see it

  Mars will come closer to Earth in the coming weeks than it has been in 15 years -- here's how to see it Mars will be at its closest point to our planet in 15 years throughout July, making for some prime nighttime viewing. Mars will look brighter in the night sky over the next six weeks than it has appeared in 15 years.

of contact with Earth in the midst of a massive dust storm on Mars . NASA rover falls silent as gigantic dust storm envelops Mars The storm , which was first detected on May 30, now blankets 14-million square miles (35-million square kilometers) of Martian surface - a quarter of the planet That

NASA ’s Opportunity rover has dropped out of contact with Earth in the midst of a massive dust storm on Mars .

"Our expectation at this point is that the rover has gone to sleep, it's in this low-power mode and it will remain in that low power mode until there's sufficient energy to charge the batteries back above a certain threshold," Callas said.

"At that point, the rover will autonomously try to wake up and communicate with us. So at this point, we're in a waiting mode, we're listening every day for possible signals from the rover."

If power levels drop far enough, even the clock will stop ticking. In that case, the rover will simply remain asleep until the sky clears and the battery charge increases enough to trigger safety routines that will wake up the flight computer.

But without the clock, Opportunity would not know what time it is. In that case, the computer is programmed to periodically check to see if the sun is up and if so, to phone home. Flight controllers have no way of predicting when such a signal might come in, but they plan to listen around the clock.

In the meantime, the rover must endure freezing overnight temperatures, putting thermal stress on Opportunity's internal components. Callas said the rover is equipped with eight one-watt plutonium heat sources and simulations indicate it should be able to withstand the lowest expected temperatures without major damage.

This Retired Astronaut Says SpaceX and NASA Rockets 'Will Never Go to Mars'

  This Retired Astronaut Says SpaceX and NASA Rockets 'Will Never Go to Mars' A retired astronaut predicts that rockets developed by SpaceX, NASA, and Blue Origin won’t succeed in landing human beings on Mars — not because the technology won’t work, but because the safety risks are too great. A retired astronaut predicts that rockets developed by SpaceX, NASA, and Blue Origin won’t succeed in landing human beings on Mars — not because the technology won’t work, but because the safety risks are too great.

Fears for NASA ’s Opportunity rover are growing after engineers lost contact with Mars ’ oldest mechanical explorer during a raging dust storm . In 2007 a huge storm covered the planet, leading to two weeks of minimal operations, including several days with no contact from the rover in an effort

Washington: NASA engineers have not heard back from Opportunity rover that is caught in an unprecedented sandstorm on Mars , leading to speculation that it might be dead, the US space agency has said. The swirling Martian dust storm that raised the atmospheric opacity, or "tau" -- the veil of

a large mountain in the background: Mars rover Curiosity: Images from the Red Planet© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Mars rover Curiosity: Images from the Red Planet

"Because the rover's not active, it will be getting colder," Callas said. "The good news there is the dust storm has warmed temperatures on Mars. We're also going into the summer season, and so the rover will not get as cold as it would normally.

"We've done an estimate that shows the rover should stay above its minimum allowable operating temperatures for the long term, so we should be able to ride out the storm. When the skies clear and the rover begins to power up, it should begin to communicate with us."

Launched from Cape Canaveral on July 7, 2003, Opportunity landed on the red planet five-and-a-half months later, on Jan. 24, 2004, three weeks after a twin rover, Spirit, bounced to an airbag-cushioned landing on the other side of the planet.

Both landers were built to last at least three months in the harsh environment of Mars and while mission managers were hopeful they would exceed their design life, there were no guarantees.

But three months quickly came and went with no major problems. Then both rovers made it a full year, then two. And so it went, to everyone's ongoing amazement.

Spirit finally went silent on March 22, 2010, stuck in deep sand and unable to favorably orient itself so its solar arrays could face the low-altitude sun during the harsh martian winter.

NASA's nuclear-powered Mars rover took an amazing selfie during an intense global dust storm

  NASA's nuclear-powered Mars rover took an amazing selfie during an intense global dust storm Scientists say a global dust storm on Mars is the thickest and darkest they have ever seen.A nasty dust storm is wrapping around Mars, and visibility in some regions is so poor that the skies look like night during the middle of the day.

Space scientists lost contact with the Opportunity Rover almost two months ago as it was buffeted by a huge dust storm which covered the entire surface of Mars . On July 26, Nasa said the storm was subsiding but said it could take weeks or months before Opportunity can ‘recharge its batteries and

NASA ’s Opportunity rover on Mars has lost touch with its handlers back on Earth, probably due to a low-power condition brought on by a thick dust storm . NASA ’s other active Mars rover , Curiosity, is better able to cope with the darkening storm because its power comes from a plutonium-fueled

But Opportunity, known to its many fans as "Oppy," remained in relatively good health and in February it marked its 5,000th Martian day, or sol, more than 14 years after landing.

a group of people standing next to a truck: 16 fascinating facts about NASA's Mars rovers© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 16 fascinating facts about NASA's Mars rovers

It's had its share of problems over the years -- its flash memory no longer works, two instruments have failed and problems with its two front wheels have forced it to drive backwards most of the time -- but the hardy robot has continued to collect valuable science, setting new records with every sol.

But the current dust storm is a definite challenge.

"Full dust storms like this one are not surprising, but are infrequent," NASA said in a status report. "They can crop up suddenly but last weeks, even months. During southern summer, sunlight warms dust particles, lifting them higher into the atmosphere and creating more wind. That wind kicks up yet more dust, creating a feedback loop that NASA scientists still seek to understand."

The nuclear-powered Curiosity Mars rover, operating in Gale Crater well away from Opportunity, is not expected to be impacted by the current storm.

Mysterious Mars rock formation explained - and it doesn't involve UFOs .
The cause of a mysterious rock formation on Mars that NASA deemed "an enigmatic pile of eroding sediments" and UFO hunters strongly believe is an extraterrestrial spacecraft was likely caused by volcanic activity on the planet billions of years ago, researchers say. The Medusae Fossae Formation (MFF) was first observed in the 1960s via the Mariner spacecraft, but NASA scientists could not explain what caused it. Now, a group of researchers have published a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research that suggests it was formed by volcanic eruptions more than 3 billion years ago.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!