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NASA on Sleeping Mars Opportunity Rover: "We Still Haven't Heard From It"

Mars is kind of a bummer: That place is a hotbed of dynamic dust storms that got so big in recent months that they encircled the entire planet. Those conditions, sure to be a challenge for future Mars colonies, are a buzzkill for NASA’s Opportunity Rover right now: A dust storm forced the droid, which has been roaming Mars for 14 years, to shut down in June, and it’s still turned off today.

But NASA hasn’t given up on trying to make contact with its “robot geologist,” which had to undergo an emergency shutdown after the dust storm prevented it from powering itself through its solar panels. Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been listening for the rover every day since its forced shutdown and attempting to send Opportunity a message command three times a week. So far, it hasn’t sent a beep back.

Mars and Mars technology media relations specialist Andrew Good tells Inverse that there’s no real update about Opportunity at this time. The last time NASA heard from Opportunity was June 10.

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“We still haven’t heard from it,” says Good. “A variety of scientists think early to mid-September might be a time when the skies clear enough that it could recharge.”

The blue dot marks the position of the lonely Opportunity Rover, caught in a dust storm on Mars.

Gold explains that NASA doesn’t really expect to hear back from the Opportunity until the storm clears up. According to an update from NASA on August 6, that time may come sooner rather than later:

The planet-encircling dust storm on Mars continues to show indicates of decay. Dust-lifting sites have decreased and surface features are starting to emerge. There are indications that the atmospheric opacity might be decreasing over the Opportunity site. Since the last contact with the rover on Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018), Opportunity has likely experienced a low-power fault and perhaps, a mission-clock fault. Additionally, the up-loss timer has also since expired, resulting in another fault condition.

While the storm of tiny dust particles has engulfed Opportunity and suspended its science operations, that doesn’t mean that NASA doesn’t have any eyes on Mars. Its other rover, the selfie-taking Curiosity, continues to study geological formations on the other side of the planet. Curiosity runs on a nuclear-powered battery meaning that, storm or no storm, its mission can go on.

FaceApp Uncannily Captures These Classic Biological Signs of Aging 

A guide to what it is, exactly, that makes faces look so old.

This week, celebrities ranging from the Jonas Brothers to Ludacris gave us a peek into what they might look like in old age, all with the help of artificial intelligence. But how exactly has FaceApp taken a stable of celebrities and transformed them into elderly versions of themselves? The app may be powered by A.I., but it’s informed by the biology of aging.

Uncanny Valley Researchers Pinpoint What Makes the 'Cats' Trailer So Creepy

"I personally did not find it to be creepy, but I think I have a pretty high threshold."

Cats, a sung-through 1981 Andrew Lloyd Webber fever dream based on a T.S. Eliot book of children’s poems about cats and sociology, is the latest musical to get the live-action treatment. It’s not the best idea. As weirded-out responses to the surreal trailer released Thursday suggested, the world is not ready for humanoid cats, which seem to have crept directly out of the uncanny valley. Valley guides agree.

2024 Moon Timeline Is "Extremely Tight," Says Former NASA Flight Director

"American industry, if it gets turned on, can do just about anything."

Whether or not you recognize Milt Windler’s name, you have definitely heard about his escapades. A retired NASA Flight Director, Windler was one of four flight directors on the Apollo 13 operations team, all of whom were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon for their work in guiding the crippled spacecraft safely back to Earth.

Humans Aren't the Only Animals That Form Complex, Tiered Societies

"It would almost be more surprising if these were simply random interactions."

Each of us is a single node in a branching web of family, friends, and acquaintances. As our ancient ancestors transitioned from small, autonomous groups to a complex network of associations, scientists theorize that we humans, boosted by our social brains, became the only animals capable of creating a multi-tiered society. However, new evidence in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggests that a close relative of ours exists in a similar system: the gorilla.

Inverse Daily: This Weekend's Killer Heat Wave Is Just the Beginning

Climate scientists say July 2019 is on course to become the hottest month ever.

TGIF, Inverse Daily fam. While I’m ugly-crying over this heartbreaking Stranger Things fan art of Hop and Eleven, let’s get you ready for the weekend.

Shout-out to reader Dustin C. for winning our AirPods contest this week. Check back with us on Monday for another surprise!