Using the MARCI color camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to measure the optical opacity of the Martian atmosphere (slang for “Tau”), a value below 1.5 was found twice in a row!
Opportunity needs Tau to be at least less than 2 to allow it to reactivate, assuming it is still able to do so, so all possible procedures have been triggered to regain control of this glorious Martian rover.
The passive radio observations made by NASA’s Deep Space Network have gone from three per week to several times a day, since Opportunity has definitely lost the date and time and should be monitored as much as possible waiting for a possible reactivation signal.
This intense phase of listening will last 45 days after which it will be necessary to decide if and how to continue the passive radio listening; in fact the solar panels “should” be covered by a thick layer of dust and in this case we should only hope that a dust devil will clean them by putting them back in operation. These “cleaning events” have repeatedly improved the efficiency of the solar panels of both Spirit and Opportunity in the past, but in any case the passive radio listening will not go beyond a year in case of failure.

What is unfortunately only mentioned in the article is the fact that Opportunity batteries are normal lithium-ion batteries, batteries whose average life is about three years and with the small defect that if completely discharged become impossible to recharge! If we add to this the fact that Opportunity’s batteries are certainly more than fifteen years old, the hope that they can be recharged after remaining totally discharged for months drops to practically zero.
I strongly doubt that Opportunity can be reactivated and I have the strong feeling that all this “therapeutic doggedness” by NASA is only to make the most of the funding before closing down and sending everyone home.

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