NASA Declares Opportunity Rover Dead
After over six months of silence today NASA attempted a last ditch effort to communicate with the Mars rover, but it was met with silence, and with that ends its 15-year long life on Mars.
The Opportunity Mars Rover landed on January 25th, 2004 and quickly began its original 90-day long mission to explore the red planet. Soon after that mission ended, scientists continued to use the rover to explore other locations on Mars.
In its 15 years, Opportunity served as a powerful scientific machine for NASA. Opportunity helped to reveal that there were once Oceans on Mars, helped scientists study the stars from the Martian surface, and even set an off-earth record for the longest drive at 25.01 miles.
Last June the rover suffered some issues after encountering a Martian dust storm. Initially, it was thought that the storm had left sand on the solar panels of the rover, thus limiting its power generation. It was hoped that another storm could blow the sand off the panels and give opportunity another lease at life.
NASA gave the rover 45 days to call home after the initial storm, but nothing ever came back from the rover. Its now believed the rover might have experienced severe damage during the storm and its unable to generate power or communicate with earth.
With the Martian winter coming soon, and without the ability to generate enough power for its onboard heaters it's suspected the rover will not survive the extreme cold conditions.
NASA has planned a press conference at 2 PM eastern time today to discuss the outcome for the rover, but at this time it seems unlikely anything can be done.
Its a sad day for the space community but one of joy as we celebrate the life of a robot who lived out its life on Mars and not only accomplished its initial goal but kept on going for years after, and for that, we thank you Opportunity.
Spent the evening at JPL as the last ever commands were sent to the Opportunity rover on #Mars. 💔— Dr. Tanya Harrison (@tanyaofmars) February 13, 2019
There was silence. There were tears. There were hugs. There were memories and laughs shared.#ThankYouOppy #GoodnightOppy pic.twitter.com/JYRPtKZ8T5