NASA's Mars Opportunity rover declared dead after record-setting mission

The dust storm, which cut off light to Opportunity's solar panels and likely doomed its batteries to death, made it impossible for the rover to continue on, and NASA hasn't heard from it in over six months. Jennifer Trosper, who served as project systems engineer for the Mars Exploration Rover mission and is playing a similar role in the 2020 Mars rover mission, suggested that future explorers might bring Opportunity and Rover back to Earth.

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which has been out of contact for 8 months, failed to respond to NASA's final attempt to reach it last night.

The agency will have made one final attempt to contact its Opportunity Rover late last night United States of America time (Tuesday), eight months after the spacecraft last made contact.

"Over the last eight months, NASA has sent over 835 commands to Opportunity to try to get it to wake up - they got no response", said Jim Greenhouse, Space Science Director at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Opportunity, a remarkably durable NASA rover created to roll along the surface of Mars for three months, has stopped communicating with Earth after 15 years of service, officials said on Wednesday, ending a mission that astounded the US space agency.

The last communication from the rover was received 10 June.

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.

FILE PHOTO: A self-portrait of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, a combination of multiple frames taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) during March 22 through March 24, 2014 on planet Mars is seen in this NASA/JPL-Caltech image released on April 17, 2014.

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.

NASA received a ping from the rover on June 10th, 2018 as it waited in low-power mode.

Trundling along at five centimetres per second (0.1 miles per hour), Opportunity covered 28 miles of Martian ground in its time, and took a peek at numerous Red Planet's impact craters.

Callas summed up what most of the Opportunity team felt when he told the assembled press today that "this is a hard day, and this is hard for me because I was there at the beginning". Project manager John Callas said there were two main reasons why the rovers were such overachievers.

"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our courageous astronauts walk on the surface of Mars", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

The rover, along with its partner, Spirit, landed on Mars in 2004 as part of the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

With its mission is declared over, NASA will no longer issuing commands to Opportunity, leaving it on Mars for good. These features form in water, a definitive sign to NASA that liquid water had been on the surface of Mars.

It landed on Mars' Meridiani Planum plain near its equator on January 25, 2004.

The rover was as only created to survive for 90 days on the surface of Mars but kept on trundling for 15 years.


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