NASA Is Waiting for the Opportunity Rover to Phone Home

NASA/JPL

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Scientists and researchers are standing by.

Much like a pair of worried parents, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is waiting anxiously for the Mars Opportunity rover to call home.

The NASA JPL team last heard from the Mars rover on June 10 before a dust storm enveloped it. NASA now believes the storm is clearing and the rover has 45 days to respond to NASA's signals.

Opportunity was launched in 2003. And though it was originally slated for a 90-day mission where it would travel about 1,000 yards, the rover has been chugging along across the red planet's surface and has logged nearly 30 miles. 

Opportunity relies on its solar panels for energy and the NASA team suspects that an issue related to the solar panels is what is keeping the rover from getting in touch. 

"If we do not hear back after 45 days, the team will be forced to conclude that the sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold have conspired to cause some type of fault from which the rover will more than likely not recover," said John Callas, Opportunity's project manager.

The NASA team isn't' entirely giving up on Opportunity, however. They will continue passive listening efforts for several months if they don't hear from it after the 45-day deadline.

Opportunity has been traversing the Marian landscape for more than 14 years.