The team managing Opportunity rover has already started preparing for the dust storm's end. "The dust haze produced by the Martian global dust storm of 2018 is one of the most extensive on record, but all indications are it is finally coming to a close", said Rich Zurek, project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been monitoring the storm.
Opportunity Project Manager John Callas said the sun was starting to reappear through the storm haze over Perserverance Valley, giving scientists hope that there will soon be sufficient sunlight to rechage the rover's batteries.
The rover's last communication with Earth was received June 10, and Opportunity's current health is unknown. However as rapidly as a measurement of atmospheric opacity identified as "tau" dips underneath 1.5, the DSN dialog advertising and marketing campaign will step up a great deal, Callas stated. "Nonetheless, in the now not actually chance that there could be a giant quantity of mud sitting on the solar arrays that's blocking the sun's vitality, we are going to have the flexibility to proceed passive listening efforts for several months".More news: Texans' Fuller suffers season-ending knee injury
With all the dust in the air, and with Opportunity unable to collect enough incoming solar light, NASA had to suspend operations and put the rover into hibernation mode to conserve energy.
Photo: A mosaic of five images taken by NASA's Opportunity in Perseverance Valley during 2017.
The clock is now officially ticking on the entire Opportunity mission.
"Images of the Opportunity site have shown no active dust storm for some time within 3,000 kilometres (or 1,900 miles) of the rover site". And soon, the skies should clear enough for the hardy Opportunity rover to recharge its batteries. Back in 2016, Opportunity was visited by one such whirlwind, which are common on the Red Planet. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ. If 45 days have passed without a response, the team will cease its active efforts to recover the rover.More news: Man charged with Saturday burglary of Closs house
The chances are small that dust accumulation would be the root cause of Opportunity's lack of communication.
The solar-powered Opportunity hasn't made a peep since June 10, when a worsening dust storm plunged the rover's environs - a spot on the rim of the 14-mile-wide (22 kilometers) Endeavour Crater called Perseverance Valley - into deep darkness.
And even though it is hobbled, having lost the use of its front steering and 256MB flash memory, not everyone is ready to give up so fast. The rovers were created to travel about 1,000 yards, and Opportunity has logged more than 28 miles. After all, the rover was originally tasked with a 90-day mission and is still working nearly 15 years later. Engineers were hopeful that when the dust began to settle, the rover would spring back to life, but that just hasn't happened yet.
"This is the worst storm Opportunity has ever seen, and we're doing what we can, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best", said Steve Squyres, a planetary scientist at Cornell University and leader of the rover mission, in a recent Planetary Society blog. "And if she does, we will be there to hear her".More news: German ex-nurse admits to killing 100 patients
Updates on the dust storm and tau can be found here.