The Longest-Running NASA Mars Rover Is Dead. Here's the Final Picture It Took.
All things must pass, even space robots. We've recently said goodbye to the world's ugliest dog, an unbelievably jacked kangaroo, and, now we say farewell to the longest-running rover ever. The Opportunity is dead, so RIP, you were a real one.
All things must pass, even space robots. We've recently said goodbye to the world's ugliest dog, an unbelievably jacked kangaroo, and, now we say farewell to the longest-running Mars rover ever. The Opportunity is dead, so RIP, space robot thing, you were a real one.
NASA announced at a press conference on Wednesday that the 15-year-old rover was no longer functional after a final attempt to reach it on the previous night -- and that the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission had officially come to a close. Incredibly, the golf cart-sized rover known as "Oppy" was originally only meant to last 90 days, but instead roved on for 15 years. It was meant to travel just 1,100 yards, but covered 28 miles and sent back 217,594 photographs.
At the top there is the final image Oppy ever sent out, depicting the dust storm that brought about the rover's end back on June 10, 2018. NASA has been trying to revive the Opportunity over since, to no avail. The storm knocked out its solar panels, meaning it couldn't power itself back up.
"This was the last image we ever took," Bill Nelson, chief of the Opportunity mission's engineering team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. "We are looking at an incredibly small amount of sunlight -- .002 percent of the normal sunlight that we would expect to see."
After landing in 2004, Opportunity contributed greatly to our understanding of the red planet, including providing evidence that Mars once had water on its surface: close-ups of rocks bearing the marks of flowing water from billions of years ago.
Its passing has led to some strange but poignant tributes from other NASA machinery.
It seems to me you lived your life— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) February 13, 2019
like a rover in the wind
never fading with the sunset
when the dust set in.
Your tracks will always fall here,
among Mars' reddest hills;
your candle's burned out long before
your science ever will.#ThanksOppy. I owe you so much. pic.twitter.com/x0i5WqA9sL
Celebrating the Opportunity rover -- a legendary explorer. I’ve just sent a message to the @MarsRovers and their team on completing their mission.— NASA InSight (@NASAInSight) February 13, 2019
Send your own message: https://t.co/dljw3vBQYp
Read news: https://t.co/UQj8dMiqNJ pic.twitter.com/Bk4KEmdTaa
"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in tribute. "And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration."
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