Why Can't NASA's Curiosity Rover Rescue Opportunity?

Artist’s illustration of NASA’s Chance on the surface area of Mars, which touched down on the Red World in January 2004.

Credit: NASA/JPL

The Mars rover Chance has actually passed away, NASA revealed the other day (Feb. 13). A layer of dust most likely covered its photovoltaic panels, avoiding it from juicing itself up after a 2018 sky-blackening dust storm on the Red World.

However why could not NASA introduce a rescue objective to get it working once again? After all, Chance wasn’t the very first rover to get to Mars, and it will not be the last. It’s simply been the hardiest. In its spectacular 14- plus years of travel, allowed by Martian winds that occasionally wiped its photovoltaic panels, it has actually covered a remarkable 28 miles (40 kilometers) in the world.

The most apparent prospect to rescue Chance is the Interest rover, Chance’s larger, nuclear-powered more youthful brother or sister. Why not take a while out of Interest’s work, and send it to see what’s incorrect with Chance and if it might be repaired? [Voyager to Mars Rover: NASA’s 10 Greatest Innovations]

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover took this image of its own tracks on the rim of Endeavour Crater in June 2017.

NASA’s Chance Mars rover took this picture of its own tracks on the rim of Endeavour Crater in June 2017.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ Arizona State University

The very first issue, sadly, is range. According to NASA’s Mars map, the Interest and Chance websites have to do with 5,200 miles (8,400 km) apart from one another. Interest’s a bit swifter-footed than Chance, however however, the young sprite would simply take method too long to cover that surface. To browse the Martian surface, these rovers need consistent assistance from Earth Integrated with the long hold-up in between message transmission and invoice, even a trek of a couple of feet can take days.

The 2nd issue is that Interest is an explorer, not a repair work bot. It would be a significant difficulty to repurpose its onboard instruments to even clear dust off of Chance’s photovoltaic panels. And there’s no warranty that’s all that’s failed with the rover sitting calmly in the Martian cold and darkness.

A selfie of the Mars Curiosity rover. Unfortunately, Opportunity's buddy can't come to its rescue.

A selfie of the Mars Interest rover. Regrettably, Chance’s pal can’t concern its rescue.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The last issue is time. Even if Interest might take some reveal train to Chance’s area, Martian winter season is embeding in, and the conditions will likely intensify any damage to Chance now that it’s no longer able to keep itself warm.

So Chance is toast. However who understands, perhaps human beings on Mars will discover it sooner or later and handle to change it back on.

Initially released on Live Science