NASA still hoping Mars winds will help wake Opportunity rover

This is like the end of WALL-E. Wake up little fella! Wake up!

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Mark Serrels
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NASA's Mars Opportunity rover has had a rough year. A sustained dust storm on Mars caused the rover to lose contact with NASA and things have been on struggle street ever since.

In August, NASA gave Opportunity, the little Mars rover that could, 45 days to get back in contact. That time frame has come and gone, but NASA has once again made the call to not abandon hope.

In mid-October, NASA said it was hopeful strengthening winds would blow up the dust it thinks is interfering with Opportunity's ability to get back in contact.

"A windy period on Mars -- known to Opportunity's team as 'dust-clearing season' -- occurs in the November-to-January time frame and has helped clean the rover's panels in the past," explained NASA. "The team remains hopeful that some dust clearing may result in hearing from the rover in this period."

In the two weeks since then NASA has reviewed the strategy, it's decided it's not giving up on the Rover until January 2019 at least.

"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," explained NASA in a new update. 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.

NASA plans to send a fresh rover to Mars in 2020, but it hopes to keep its current rovers operational in the meantime.

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