NASA rover finally bites the dust on Mars after 15 years

Christopher Davidson
February 13, 2019

NASA's Opportunity, the Mars rover that was built to operate just three months but kept going and going, was pronounced dead Wednesday, 15 years after it landed on the red planet. The golf-cart-sized rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning airbags. There was no response, only silence. "This is an emotional time".

Opportunity was first sent to collect data about the planet Mars alongside fellow rover Spirit, which concluded its mission in 2010.

The lander has got a grip on the instrument, and is ready to pick it up and place it on the Red Planet, tweeted the InSight mission on Monday.

In the end, Opportunity set endurance and distance records that could stand for years, if not decades.

Remarkably spry until communication ceased last June, Opportunity roamed a record 28 miles (45 kilometres) around Mars.

Opportunity was a robotic geologist, equipped with cameras and instruments at the end of a robotic arm for grinding away layers, taking microscopic images and analyzing the composition of the rocks and soil.

Opportunity, NASA's longest-running Mars rover, outlived its twin rover, Spirit, which went silent in 2010 after getting stuck in a sand trap and running out of power. NASA will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. ET today to discuss the results of recovery efforts since a dust storm encircled Mars past year.

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.

Company that promised one-way ticket to Mars goes bankrupt
Be that as it may, many of Mars One's claims have come under intense scrutiny in the years since its beginning. After all, Mars One itself isn't an engineering firm, and has no operations in building space craft.

With project costs reaching about $500,000 a month, NASA decided there was no point in continuing.

The manager of the project, John Callas, described the decay of the machine as like "a loved one who's gone missing".

Since then, ground control has been unable to make contact with the 'droid.

No one knew what it was or where it came from, but people on Earth were captivated by the Martian doughnut - in other words, they were eating it up!

Scientists consider this the end of an era, now that Opportunity and Spirit are both gone.

NASA's Opportunity rover never found life on Mars, but in a photo of Meridiani Planum, it did find a mysterious object that looks like a long-eared bunny rabbit.

NASA's InSight lander touched down last November, while the Curiosity rover has been exploring the Gale Crater for more than six years.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the overriding goal is to search for evidence of past or even present microbial life at Mars and find suitable locations to send astronauts, perhaps in the 2030s.

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