- NASA’s Opportunity rover is officially dead and the mission is over, the agency said Wednesday.
- The rover stopped communicating in June 2018 during a brutal Martian dust storm, but NASA didn’t give up hope that the machine might re-connect after the dust settled and the rover gathered solar power.
- But finally, after one last failed attempt to call Opportunity on Tuesday, NASA has declared the mission officially over.
- Still, Opportunity’s near 15-year stint on Mars was impressive for a robot designed to last only months.
- Here are a few of Opportunity’s most noteworthy accomplishments.
NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover was built to last just 90 Martian sols, or 92 Earth days. But the scrappy machine shocked engineers by surviving far longer than that. The rover withstood nearly 15 years of tough conditions on Mars before finally succumbing to a violent dust storm that shook the Martian globe last June.
NASA made one last unsuccessful attempt to phone Opportunity on Tuesday before declaring the mission officially over.
"When this little rover landed, the objective was to have it be able to move 1,100 yards and survive for 90 days on Mars," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Wednesday. "Instead here we are, 14 years later, after 28 miles of travel, and we get to celebrate the end of this mission."
Opportunity launched toward Mars on July 7, 2003 and landed there on January 25, 2004. Engineers at NASA did not expected the solar-powered machine to weather a single Martian winter; but in the end, the golf-cart-sized rover managed to crawl more than a marathon’s distance on the red planet.
After Mars endured a global dust storm last summer that covered the planet in red dirt, the resulting darkness made it too tough for Opportunity to capture much-needed solar power. NASA hasn’t heard a peep from the golf-cart sized rover since it was put into a nap in safe mode during the big storm. It turned out to be the robot’s final slumber.
Here’s a look back at what the Opportunity rover accomplished during its unlikely journey on Mars.
Opportunity was one of two six-wheeled rovers that NASA launched to Mars in 2003. Its twin, Spirit, left Earth on June 10, followed by Opportunity on July 7.
NASA / JPL
Spirit survived on Mars for more than six years.
Opportunity blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Scientists hoped the twin rovers would help them figure out whether Mars might have once been a place where life could exist.
It took the two rovers more than six months to fly the roughly 283 million miles to Mars.
NASA / JPL / Cornell
Opportunity arrived on Mars on January 25, 2004, and was drop-bounced onto the ground inside of a kind of heavy-duty bubble wrap.
- ‘This is a hard day:’ NASA’s Opportunity rover is dead, ending the longest-running Mars mission in history
- The Hubble telescope has discovered a ‘dark vortex’ raging on Neptune that would swallow 20% of Earth’s surface
- SpaceX may launch its new spaceship for NASA in March — a vital test to help show it can safely fly astronauts
Source: Business Insider