Sorry, but NASA says Mars signal wasn't Opportunity knocking
Mislabelled signal raised rover fans' hopes, just for a while
Space-fans pricked up their Twitter-ears today, when just for a few minutes it looked like the little lost rover Opportunity had woken up.
Opportunity has been silent since June, when a massive dust storm blocked its solar panels from charging its battery.
At the time, NASA boffins explained it would have put itself in a minimum-power mode, drawing enough current to keep its clock ticking over and not much more.
Mission operators kept listening, in the hope that wind would blow enough dust off the panels to wake the rover, and today it briefly looked like that had happened, when the Deep Space Network downloaded an 11 bytes/second signal from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter marked “OPPY”.
Alas, this was not Opportunity phoning home, but a mis-labelled signal, as NASA had to explain:
Test data or false positives can make it look like a given spacecraft is active on https://t.co/V3WGqQrrvJ. We miss @MarsRovers Opportunity, and would be overjoyed to share a verified signal with you. Our work to reestablish comms continues.— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) November 15, 2018
So it's back to listening and hoping. Here at Vulture West we're crossing fingers and toes. ®