由于尘埃降落到在火星上,机遇号漫游者仍然是失踪的。

         由于操控者正在准备发起联系,因此这个漫游者还没有报到。Opportunity rover still MIA as dust settles on Mars

我们在火星上看到的最大的一次沙尘暴现在正在逐渐结束,给机遇号将快速得到足够的功率 去重新开启和地球的正常联系带来了希望。从六月至今,这个漫游者已经失去了联系,控制者也在准备好去尝试使漫游者回复NASA的深空探测网发送的命令。

和更大的好奇号漫游者不同,机遇号由太阳能供电。当现在的沙尘暴渐渐包围了整个火星的大气层时,为它提供能量的太阳光逐渐变淡。机遇号已经有几个月不能够得到足够的能量去维持在正常的功能,导致它转换到了休眠模式。一旦它经历了这次在6月的转换,这个漫游者就有了足够的功率和地球上的操作人员实现应答了。

基于大气层的状况,那些操作人员预测在不久的未来那个电源很有可能是充足的。可是,这个漫游者的情况会有一些无法把握的事情,这意味着它将不会像预期的那样进行联系。最简单的可能是沙尘暴在漫游者的太阳能控制板上沉积了足够的尘埃,使它一直远离充足电量的程度。那能够把它从睡眠的返回推延到最后一颗尘埃离开大气层,或者甚至造成电量停留在低的状态,直到附近的风清理了控制板。

当然,那一切假设每件事情都在正常地运行。机遇号的电量很有可能降得太低了,以至于它的机载时钟停止运转。如果是那种情况,那么就没有方法去得知这个漫游者什么时候会努力重新连接建立联系。这是操作人员正在准备给它发送命令去建立联系的缘故之一,到了那时就不能等待漫游者去应答了。

在休眠的过程中,一些电量或联络的硬件设备也有可能出故障了。操作者认为漫游者现在待着的位置会保持足够温暖,能使一些主板上加热器将继续维持部件在被估计的温度或其以上,所以问题基本上是部件是旧的而且它们已经在火星上的14年的条件是艰苦的。

在状况好到能使它产生足够的功率以回应后,NASA将持续尝试去联络漫游者45天。如果在那个时段里没有响应,漫游者的操控者将只会再用几个额外的月份来被动地听它。

Opportunity rover still MIA as dust settles on Mars

The rover has not checked in as controllers are getting ready to trigger contact.

One of the largest dust storms we’ve ever seen on Mars is finally winding down, raising hopes that the Opportunity rover will soon be able to obtain enough power to resume normal contact with Earth. At this point, there’s been no contact with the rover since June, and controllers are getting ready to attempt to get the rover to respond to commands sent over NASA’s Deep Space Network.

Unlike the larger Curiosity rover, Opportunity is solar-powered. And as the current dust storm gradually grew to encompass the entirety of Mars’ atmosphere, the sunlight that powered it gradually faded out. For several months, Opportunity hasn’t been getting enough powerto maintain normal function, causing it to shift into a hibernation mode. Once it underwent this shift back in June, the rover has been waiting for enough power to start checking in with its operators here on Earth.

Based on the atmospheric conditions, those operators expect that power is likely to be sufficient in the very near future. There are a number of uncertainties regarding the rover’s condition that could mean it won’t be making contact as expected, however. The simplest possibility is that the storm deposited enough dust on the rover’s solar panels to keep them from reaching sufficient power levels. That could delay its return from hibernation until the last of the dust is out of the atmosphere, or it could even cause the power to stay low until local winds clean the panels off.

All that, of course, assumes everything’s working normally. There’s a good chance that Opportunity‘s power dropped so low that its on-board clock shut down. If that’s the case, then there’s no way of knowing when the rover will try to re-establish contact. That’s one of the reasons that operators are preparing to send it commands to establish contact rather than waiting for the rover to try to check in.

There’s also the chance that some power or communication hardware failed during the hibernation. Operators expect that the location the rover is in will stay warm enough that some small onboard heaters will keep components at or above the temperatures they’re rated for, so the issue is primarily that the components are old and the conditions have been harsh for the 14 years they’ve been on Mars.

NASA will continue attempts to contact the rover for 45 days after the conditions are good enough for it to generate sufficient power to respond. If there’s no response during that period, the rover’s controllers will just passively listen for it checking in for several additional months.

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