NASA May Pull the Plug on JPL Mars Rover Opportunity, Announcement to Come This Morning

Published : Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | 5:38 AM

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena were still trying to contact its record-setting Mars Rover Opportunity last night, after its eight months’ silence after falling victim to an intense sand storm on the Red Planet.

The Opportunity crew was to have made one final attempt to communicate with the Rover Tuesday night, and to then announce their findings about Opportunity’s status Wednesday, in a media briefing at 11 a.m.

They will also announce a decision on what to do next, including possibly officially terminating the Rover’s mission.

The briefing will be streamed live from JPL and aired on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and on YouTube.

Participants in the briefing will include BASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, JPL Director Michael Watkins, acting director Lori Glaze of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, and the team from the Mars Exploration Rover mission at JPL and other NASA offices.

JPL’s Jennifer Trosper, Mars 2020 project systems engineer, will also be part of the briefing team.

The public can ask questions on social media using the hashtag #askNASA or by leaving a comment in the chat section on YouTube.

Opportunity and its twin Spirit, NASA’s robot geologists, landed on Mars in 2004 in search of answers about the history of water on the planet. Spirit concluded its mission in 2010. Opportunity kept on working after that, and among its achievements is the confirmation that water once flowed on Mars.

Opportunity also set a roaming record of 28 miles.

JPL manages Spirit and Opportunity for NASA.

For more information about the Mars Exploration Rover program, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer.   

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