NASA said they will not be able to communicate with spacecrafts and rovers on Mars this July end because of the positioning of Mars with respect to Sun.
The US space agency revealed for a period from July 22 to August 1, Mars will be near the sun on the sky’s dome, crossing the sky with the sun during the day. This particular positioning of Mars in our sky is a conjunction, and, around every Mars conjunction with the sun, NASA has a moratorium on sending commands to its Mars spacecraft.
NASA revealed yesterday that this year’s moratorium will be happening from July 22 to August 1 while also stating that this moratorium is out of caution. Mission teams do not communicate with their assets on and around Mars because there is a significant degradation in the communication link. Owing to this issue, there is a possibility that if communication happens during the time, the commands that reach the assets could be corrupted thereby leading to malfunctioning that could be hard to recover from.
However, the space agency and its mission teams continue to receive telemetry information about the status of each of the vehicles. Further, the telemetry information may have some corruption, but those few bits will be retransmitted later on.
The teams have been preparing for the moratorium for weeks and are currently determining the most useful sites for the rovers Curiosity and Opportunity to remain productive during the solar-conjunction period. While the communications will be done, the rovers will be active, carrying out commands sent in advance. Orbiters will be making their science observations and transmitting data. The rovers won’t be driving, but observations and measurements will continue.
NASA said all of its spacecraft on or orbiting Mars have experience from at least one previous Mars conjunction.