A massive dust storm on Mars has subsided enough for NASA to activate a 45-day active listening period, where the agency will try to establish contact with the Opportunity rover after a 3-month silence.
This decision was made on September 11, and over the next 45 days, NASA engineers will contact the ship several times a day (usually three times a week). This schedule is based on the hope that the rover will accumulate enough solar energy to take commands and react. In the active listening procedure, NASA sends instructions forcing the device to create a signal at a certain frequency if it is turned on and has not received serious damage.
If the rover does not respond to the signals before the expiration date, then NASA should be guided by a further plan of action. Earlier, agency representatives said they would continue the passive search until the end of January. The dust gradually settles, so there is hope that the solar panels will be able to recharge to restore contact with the Earth.
On the Martian surface, traces of a NASA rover Opportunity, captured in June 2017, are visible. After several forced months of silence, NASA will try to reconnect with the device within 45 days
When the agency announced a plan, some scientists expressed concern over the deadline. The fact is that the settling of dust can lead to the fact that it will block the solar panels and block them from recharging. But on the Red Planet there are seasonal weather conditions, called dust devils, that can clear the dust. However, they will not begin until November, when the 45-day period ends.
Rover has explored the Martian surface since 2004, surpassing the original 90-day mission. But the signals do not come from June 10. Scientists hope that Opportunity just went into hibernation and will soon wake up. We will count the days, and wait for the outcome.