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NASA has decided to continue through January its effort to both listen and send signals to Opportunity in the hope of bringing it to life.
The 45-day deadline passed late last week. But NASA will continue active listening — a strategy that involves both sending commands to Opportunity and listening for any peeps the six-wheeled robot may make — for several more months at least, agency officials announced yesterday. “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,” NASA officials wrote in a mission update yesterday. “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,” they added. “The agency will reassess the situation in the January 2019 time frame.”
This is exactly what the planetary scientists wanted. Their hope is that, with the beginning of dust devil season in November, the chances will then increase for removing the dust that likely covers the rover’s solar panels. It is thought that the rover has a better shot at coming back to life during this time period.