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NASA about to pull plug on Mars rover, silent for 8 months

(NASA via AP). FILE - This illustration made available by NASA shows the rover Opportunity on the surface of Mars. The exploratory vehicle landed on Jan. 24, 2004, and logged more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) before falling silent during a global dust...
(NASA via AP). FILE – This illustration made available by NASA shows the rover Opportunity on the surface of Mars. The exploratory vehicle landed on Jan. 24, 2004, and logged more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) before falling silent during a global dust…
(NASA/JPL via AP). FILE - This photo released Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004 made by one of the rear hazard-avoidance cameras on NASA's Opportunity rover, shows Opportunity's landing platform, with freshly made tracks leading away from it. Opportunity rolled a...
(NASA/JPL via AP). FILE – This photo released Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004 made by one of the rear hazard-avoidance cameras on NASA’s Opportunity rover, shows Opportunity’s landing platform, with freshly made tracks leading away from it. Opportunity rolled a…
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University/Arizona State University via AP). FILE - This composite of March 2015 photos made available by NASA shows a shallow crater called Spirit of St. Louis, about 110 feet (34 meters) long and about 80 feet (24 meters) wi...
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University/Arizona State University via AP). FILE – This composite of March 2015 photos made available by NASA shows a shallow crater called Spirit of St. Louis, about 110 feet (34 meters) long and about 80 feet (24 meters) wi…

By MARCIA DUNN
AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – NASA is trying one last time to contact its record-setting Mars rover Opportunity, before calling it quits.

The rover has been silent for eight months, victim of an intense dust storm. Thick dust darkened the sky last summer and, for months, blocked sunlight from the spacecraft's solar panels.

NASA said Tuesday it will issue a final series of recovery commands. If there's no response by Wednesday – which NASA suspects will be the case – Opportunity will be declared dead, 15 years after arriving at Mars. The rover is the longest-lasting lander on the red planet.

Team members are already looking back at Opportunity's achievements, including confirmation that water once flowed on Mars. Besides endurance, the six-wheeled rover set a roaming record of 28 miles (45 kilometers.)

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