As the global storm that wrapped the Red Planet in a cloud of dust since late June finally gave up the ghost in September, the sky continued to clear over Endeavour Crater and the Opportunity team initiated the NASA-approved two-step plan to reestablish contact with the rover.
On February 6, 2018, I found myself shoulder to shoulder with two of my heroes: Bill Nye on the left, Buzz Aldrin on the right. Our eyes were fixed on the first vertical Falcon Heavy rocket. Figuring the world's most powerful rocket might send me flying backwards once the countdown hit zero, I gripped the railing so tightly I started to lose the feeling in my fingertips.
The dust raising power of the storms that wrapped Mars in a cloud in June and July diminished in August. Meanwhile, on Earth, the Opportunity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reviewed recovery plans, conducted additional simulations, and began wrapping the month with newfound reasons to believe Opportunity can emerge from her hibernation.
A fantastic story of adventure, exploration and discovery is reaching its denouement. In the final phase of its long and productive deep-space mission, Dawn is operating flawlessly in orbit around dwarf planet Ceres.