The Rover Opportunity died.
NASA announces the end of the mission after 15 years of exploring Mars.
The rover Opportunity, one of the vehicles sent by the US space agency to explore Mars, is dead.
This fine piece of science worked for 15 years, but should only have lasted only three months.
The Opportunity rover has died, one of the vehicles sent by the US space agency to explore Mars – The US space agency announced Wednesday the end of the mission after the vehicle failed to send signals to Earth following a dust storm that prevented it from receiving energy from the Sun.
Opportunity was sent to the planet Red on July 7, 2003, and reached its final destination on January 25, 2004. It remained active for 15 years.
It should have lasted only three months. Opportunity succumbed to a gigantic dust storm that plunged it under the dust and prevented the solar panels from producing energy.
“The first indication of a 621.37 mile (1,000 kilometers) dust storm from Opportunity was received Friday night” said NASA after the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter – a machine that orbits the planet for signs of water in the Martian past – found signs of “a persistent but still very distant storm “that was” affect the atmospheric opacity at the site “where the rover was.
On June 10, the space agency realized that the storm that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had recognized and was “still a long way from” Opportunity had become a gigantic sandstorm that was going around the planet and that had swallowed the rover.
NASA predicted that it “had suffered a low-energy failure, going into hibernation until the sky eventually got clean.”
That was at least the hope of the space agency. But there were no signs of Opportunity’s life.
In September, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, responsible for the rover, stated that if Opportunity does not communicate with the Earth until mid-October, “the team will be forced to conclude that the sun-blocking dust and the Martian cold may have caused some kind the rover would probably not recover.”
In late September, NASA was able to locate Opportunity, which was lost in the dust storm on Mars. Still, Opportunity seemed to be in a coma.
Four months after this news, NASA made one last attempt and sent an order to test whether Opportunity responded to the engine signal. The signal was sent overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Then the scientists waited about 26 minutes: a signal sent from Earth to Mars takes about 13 minutes to reach the destination. Then, if Opportunity got it and got it done, we’d need another 13 minutes to figure it out.
But it’s been over 12 hours and the rover is still silent. So it can only be dead, NASA concluded.
The Opportunity mission is considered one of NASA’s most successful missions in interplanetary exploration. “The mission of NASA’s rover Opportunity comes to an end after 15 years exploring the surface of Mars and helping to create the pillars for NASA’s return to the Red Planet,” the US space agency wrote.
“It is because of missions like Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronaut will walk on the surface of Mars.
And when that day comes, part of that first footprint will be given by the men and women of Opportunity, a small rover who defied all odds and did so much on behalf of the exploration, “said Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator.
Opportunity, the son of NASA who left home for three months but stayed on Mars for 15 years.
Born with a three-month shelf life but surviving on Mars for 15 years. Thanks to him we know that the Red Planet may already have had water and, therefore, life.
He died after eight months in a coma. When it came to the world, the rover Opportunity was already condemned to a short life among the stars. The parents, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, believed that the heart of the engine – the solar panels from which it produces energy – would not last more than 90 days on the demanding Martian soil.
But Opportunity surpassed all expectations. He lived for 15 years, exceeding the average life expectancy at birth in 14 years and 293 days. Now he died after eight months in a coma. Mission accomplished.