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NASA Opportunity rover that was studying Mars closely hibernated in June last year after a dust storm blocked sunlight from charging its solar panels. The scientists feared that the rover has "died."
The rover last came in contact with Earth on June 10, 2018. Although the storm cleared eventually, the 15-year old rover is yet to re-communicate with Earth ever since.
"I haven't given up yet. This could be the end. Under the assumption that this is the end, it feels good. I mean that" said Professor Steven Squyres, mission's principal investigator told The New York Times. If the storm has damaged the rover drastically, "that's an honorable death", Squyres added.
Now, a team of engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are sending new commands to the rover in an attempt to contact the spacecraft. The new commands will be sent in the coming weeks and will address the issues that are preventing Opportunity rover from transmitting signals.
"We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover," said John Callas, project manager for Opportunity at the JPL. "Over the past seven months, we have attempted to contact Opportunity over 600 times. While we have not heard back from the rover and the probability that we ever will is decreasing each day, we plan to continue to pursue every logical solution that could put us back in touch," he said.
Besides, Mars is heading into southern winter, which will cause severe temperature drops that could cause irreparable harm to the rover's battery reservoirs or computer systems.