In 2018, NASA's beloved little Opportunity (oppy) was declared dead after a dust storm "killed" it. It may still be OK, but when NASA began recovery effort, they pinged oppy when it was still in sleep mode gaining power, Oppy may not have noticed any of the commands that it was sent, it probably entered "Uploss fault" which it was designed to do when it hadn't heard from earth in a long time. Maybe it's still out there... any chance???

  • $\begingroup$ If the rover did not answer, the receiver may be defect, the transmitter, the computer, the clock, the battery, the solar cells may have a fault. But you could not send an astronaut there to measure what is ok and what is not. So we will never know if there is still a chance left. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


Short answer is, it's most likely very dead.

Opportunity had several issues leading into the storm period, including failing memory. Once it was not getting enough light, the expected sequence of flat battery related problems are described here but the existing failures may mean they did not execute as expected.

Following the storm it was expected that the software would know it had been sometime without commands, and that the clock had stopped.

Therefore it was programmed to identify sunrise times and attempt to re-establish the clock and then listen at pre-defined post sunrise times for instructions. These times could not be known for certainty since they depended on exactly when 'sunrise' was being detected in the aftermath of the dust storm.

Various guesses at the time were made, with 835 messages sent at the expected windows to trigger a more complete restart.

Since no response was received, either every single one of those 835 messages failed to hit the window, or something within Opportunity (power, computer, radio) had failed while power was out and things cooled off. Unfortunately the actual model used does not appear to be on the internet to allow an actual miss probability to be calculated, but with 835 attempts it would appear to be low.

  • $\begingroup$ Also, the mars nights get very cold, so the batteries froze to death, as well solder points on the electronics may have broken off. $\endgroup$
    – RAD6000
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ @compi, Opportunity had radioisotope heaters for the electronics bay so not impossible that the batteries are not full frozen/damaged yet, depending on how much margin there was there. Plenty of other parts at risk from the cold though. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2022 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ That's true. 8 of them were used per rover. Although I'm not sure which kind of systems they heated with them and what their status is today. $\endgroup$
    – RAD6000
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ thank you all for your help! But I'm sad now, knowing oppy is dead. Goodbye old friend... Opportunity M. Rover (2004-2018) "my battery is low, and it's getting dark." $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 17:30

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