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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.

The 'Stoned Ape' Theory Might Explain Our Extraordinary Evolution

A scientist resurfaces a psychedelic retelling of human evolution.

Imagine Homo erectus, a now-extinct species of hominids that stood upright and became the first of our ancestors to move beyond a single continent. Around two million years ago, these hominids, some of whom eventually evolved into Homo sapiens, began to expand their range beyond Africa, moving into Asia and Europe. Along the way, they tracked animals, encountered dung, and discovered new plants.

Survey Reveals the Top 10 Relationship Deal Breakers in America

If you could build the perfect relationship, what would it look like? 

By Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., The Conversation
Filed Under Data & Relationships

There’s an old saying, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” In other words, before you give up, take matters into your own hands and try a little harder.

As a psychology researcher, I believe this adage applies to relationships, too. Before you let go, look for the “knots” that might save you from accidentally letting a great relationship slip from your grasp. Relationship science suggests that the problem is that people tend to overemphasize the negative and underappreciate the positive when looking at their romantic partners.

This Fearless 17-Year-Old Is America's Best Bet for Making It to Mars

“I wouldn't say I'd be ancient when I get back."

Like all teenagers, Alyssa Carson has had to make some hard choices. But as a 17-year-old in training to become the first human on Mars, hers have been more difficult than most.

While most people her age are deciding where to go to college and what to major in, Carson’s internal monologue has been a little more fraught: To seize my lifelong dream of making it to Mars, am I willing to sacrifice the chance to start a family? Opt never again to see the ones I love? Agree to undergo surgical procedures, give up an organ or two, or put myself at higher risk of cancer? Squeeze myself into a confined space with strangers and agree to be hurdled across an empty abyss for six months? Nine? How about three years?

A Mysterious Third Human Species Lived Alongside Neanderthals in This Cave

It's a “fascinating part of human history."

Scientists digging in the mountains of southern Siberia have revealed key insights into the lives of Denisovans, a mysterious branch of the ancient human family tree. While these relatives are extinct, their legacy lives on in the modern humans who carry fragments of their DNA and in the tiny artifacts and bones they left behind. Compared to the well-known Neanderthals, there’s a lot we don’t know about the Denisovans — but a pair of papers published Wednesday hint at their place in our shared history.

Signs of Earliest Moving Organism Found in 2.1-Billion-Year-Old Gabon Rock

Movement has come a long way.

In 2014, biologists digging in the black shale of Gabon’s Bangombé Plateau discovered truly ancient treasure: perfectly preserved fossils of what might be the oldest multicellular organisms we’ve ever seen. Now, the 2.1-billion-year-old fossils of the Francevillian basin are in the spotlight again, as a closer look reveals that some of them might be the oldest organisms that ever moved on their own.