"Opportunity in Endurance Crater" by NASA / Public Domain

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

Feb 14, 2019

By Rafi Letzter

The Mars rover Opportunity has died, NASA announced yesterday (Feb. 13). A layer of dust likely coated its solar panels, preventing it from juicing itself up after a 2018 sky-blackening dust storm on the Red Planet.

But why couldn’t NASA launch a rescue mission to get it working again? After all, Opportunity wasn’t the first rover to get to Mars, and it won’t be the last. It’s just been the hardiest. In its stunning 14-plus years of travel, enabled by Martian winds that periodically cleaned off its solar panels, it has covered an impressive 28 miles (40 kilometers) on the planet.

The most obvious candidate to rescue Opportunity is the Curiosity rover, Opportunity’s bigger, nuclear-powered younger sibling. Why not take some time out of Curiosity’s work, and send it to see what’s wrong with Opportunity and if it might be fixed?

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