NASA to make final attempt to contact Mars Opportunity Rover

Opportunity's record-setting mission on Mars appears to have reached its end

NASA will hold a briefing at 2pm EST today on the status of its Mars Opportunity Rover, which has been out of communication since June 10, 2018, when dust storms enveloped the planet.

No, I'm not crying over a Mars rover, YOU'RE crying.

Opportunity and Spirit were built to last 90 days, but Opportunity far exceeded that number, roving for almost 15 years.

Thick dust darkened the sky previous year and, for months, blocked sunlight from the spacecraft's solar panels.

Engineers speculate the rover's internal clock may have become scrambled during the prolonged outage, disrupting the rover's sleep cycle and draining its batteries.

And as the weather gets colder on the planet, the machine is unlikely to get the boost that will kick-start it into action.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will be present, as well as the heads of NASA's planetary science and of Opportunity's rover program.

The space agency will now attempt to contact Opportunity for the final time on Wednesday.

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In August, NASA set a 45 day deadline to declare "Oppy" dead if no response was heard from the aircraft.

Project manager John Callas said: "It's just like a loved one who's gone missing, and you keep holding out hope that they will show up and that they're healthy".

"But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say enough and move on with your life."

As for Opportunity: "It has given us a larger world", Dr Callas said. "Mars is now part of our neighborhood".

Astrophysicist Gemma Lavender tweeted: "Think we may be saying goodbye to the Opportunity rover".

Meanwhile, the Curiosity rover, which was unaffected by the storm, and the stationary InSight lander, continue to study the Red Planet and carry on missions of discovery that were founded by Opportunity and Spirit. Previously InSight set up the seismometer on Mars to record the Marsquakes, and help scientists to understand how Mars and other rocky planets are formed. It also discovered evidence that there was once water on Mars, which may have been a possible breeding ground for extraterrestrial life.

A press conference about the state of the machine will be broadcast online on Nasa's website and YouTube channel at 7pm.

You can watch the press confidence live, courtesy of NASA and the public can ask questions on social media using the hashtag #askNASA.

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