Fifteen years after the NASA Opportunity operator sank to the surface of Mars, scientists fear they will never hear the spacecraft again.
The opportunity has not been heard since a storm of dust on the red planet last June. There was so much dust in the Mars atmosphere that sunlight could not reach the solar energy Opportunity panels to generate energy.
"I have not given up," Professor Cornell University Steven Squyres, the chief investigator of the mission, told The New York Times. "This could be the end. Under the assumption that this is the end, it feels good. This means".
He said that if the storm set aside the vehicle, "this is an honorable death."
Opportunity and his twin device, Spirit landed on Mars on January 24, 2004. Each Rover was designed to last for a few months and travel to hundreds of meters. But they only continued.
The Six Wheel Opportunity connected more than 28 miles to Mars before falling silent. The spirit was no longer transmitted in early 2010, a few months after it was ensnared in a Martian sand trap.
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Flight controllers continue to send orders to the vehicle waiting for an answer. But the manager of the John Callas project says that the longer it will last, the contact will be made less likely.
"We are now in January, approaching the end of the historic dust-cleaning season," Callas told the Times, adding that the scientist had not been able to inform NASA about the situation due to the partial closure of the government .
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.