February 21, 2019

NASA's Curiosity Rover Snaps a Selfie Before Its Next Mars Journey

01 February 2019, 01:09 | Edward Lowe

NASA Attempting to Restore Contact With Mars Opportunity Rover Following Massive Dust Storm

NASA's Opportunity Rover May Have'Died on Mars in Dust Storm

Before undertaking its latest trip, though, the rover snapped 57 individual images using its Mars Hand Lens Imager camera. The panoramic picture was taken at the "Rock Hall" drill site on Vera Rubin ridge.

"Curiosity rover has taken its last selfie on the Vera Rubin Ridge and descended toward a clay region of Mount Sharp".

Curiosity, which has explored the ridge since fall 2017, is ready for its next move: The rover is now traveling into the "clay bearing unit", a space that's located in a trough slightly south of the Vera Rubin Ridge.

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The selfie taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on January 15 at the "Rock Hall" drill site on the Red Planet's Vera Rubin Ridge.

"The Rock Hall drill hole is visible to the lower left of the rover", NASA reported. The first one is regarding the rover's initial X-band radio which is used for communicating with Earth, which could have failed. Unfortunately, the golf cart-sized robot can't have a proper celebration because it entered sleep mode in June when a global dust storm on Mars blocked out the sun so that it couldn't recharge its batteries. When it gets there, it will check out the unit's clay minerals, which might provide key details on Mars' ancient lakes. Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, was created to assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable to support microbes. The new commands will address "low-likelihood events" that might have been preventing the rover from sending signals back home.

After losing contact with the $400 million Opportunity rover following a dust storm on Mars, NASA announced that it is planning a renewed attempt to send messages commanding the exploration vehicle to respond.

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The team is continuing to listen for the rover over a broad range of times, frequencies and polarizations using the Deep Space Network (DSN) Radio Science Receiver. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability". Each Rover was created to last a few months and travel a few hundred yards.

It has travelled over 45 kilometres and logged its 5,000th Martian day (or sol) back in February 2018.

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Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2003. While Spirit's run on Mars effectively ended in 2011, Opportunity persisted and continued to make invaluable scientific discoveries.

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