NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers in Pasadena, California, have begun transmitting a new set of commands to the Opportunity rover in hopes of reviving the silent 15-year-old Martian explorer to contact Earth. These new commands, which will be sent to the rover during the next several weeks, address low-likelihood events that could have occurred to prevent it from transmitting after the last communication with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the location. Read more for another video and additional information.
“We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover. These new command strategies are in addition to the ‘sweep and beep’ commands we have been transmitting up to the rover since September,” said John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at JPL. In other words, instead of just listening for Opportunity, the project will send commands to the rover to respond back with a beep.
“The new transmission strategies are expected to go on for several weeks. They address three possible scenarios: that the rover’s primary X-band radio – which Opportunity uses to communicate with Earth – has failed; that both its primary and secondary X-band radios have failed; or that the rover’s internal clock, which provides a timeframe for its computer brain, is offset,” according to NASA.