NASA Declares Its Longest-Running Mars Rover Dead After 15 Years

13 February, 2019, 23:21 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • An illustration made available by NASA shows the rover Opportunity on the surface of Mars

NASA is saying farewell to its Opportunity rover on Mars after having been out of communication with the robot for about a year.

NASA announced the completion of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity's mission after a final attempt to command the rover.

The experience inspired her to pursue a career at JPL; Fraeman is now a deputy project scientist on the Mars exploration rover project, and works with Opportunity nearly daily.

NASA said it tried to reconnect more than 1,000 times before finally giving up the ghost, having made "every reasonable engineering effort" to recover the rover.

Just a few months after the Opportunity rover arrived at the Red Planet, its cameras spotted this deceptively delicious-looking patch of rocks near the landing site.

This illustration made available by NASA shows the rover Opportunity on the surface of Mars.

In the end, Opportunity set endurance and distance records that are years, if not decades, from being broken. The golf-cart-sized rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning airbags. They rocketed from Cape Canaveral a month apart in 2003.


"But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say "enough" and move on with your life".

NASA shows the tool turret at the end of the the Opportunity rover's robotic arm on the southern side of "Marathon Valley", which goes through the western rim of Endeavour Crater on January 5, 2016. "I have to tell you, this is an emotional time", he added.

Cornell University's Steve Squyres, lead scientist for both Opportunity and Spirit, considers succumbing to a ferocious storm an "honourable way" for the mission to end.

Its greatest achievement was discovering, along with Spirit, evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life.

The swirling maelstrom may have dumped dust onto the solar panels which power the rover, meaning it can not recharge its battery to make contact with mission control back on Earth. Now it's getting colder and darker at Mars, further dimming prospects. It's especially frustrating, according to Callas, not knowing precisely why Opportunity-or Spirit-failed.

Now it is up to Curiosity and the InSight lander to carry on the legacy, Mr Callas said, along with spacecraft in orbit around Mars. "I heard this morning that we had not heard back", said Zurbuchen, explaining that the "beloved" rover remains silent.

"Mars is now part of our neighbourhood".

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