Mars Opportunity rover is dead, NASA confirms

Mars Opportunity rover is dead, NASA confirms

The rover ends its mission with several unmatched feats. Zurbuchen was present Tuesday night during a final planned attempt to reach the rover Tuesday evening, asking the rover to respond.

Opportunity's mission has led to many discoveries about the Red Planet, but perhaps the most exciting was when the rover found evidence that Mars once had water and supported conditions for sustaining microbial life.

"I am standing here with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude, [as] I declare the Opportunity mission as complete, and with it the Mars Exploration rover's mission as complete", said Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, during a livestream of the announcement. Due to the bot's silent state, NASA is cutting ties with Opportunity and ending it's 15-year Mars mission. Starved of sunlight, the poor rover didn't have the energy to wake up from an electronic coma, and remained unresponsive to radio commands. No other vehicle, robotic or crewed, has ever traveled farther on the surface of another world.

Its goal was to search for clues about the history of water on Mars.

One of Opportunity's biggest achievements was identifying water once flowed on the red planet.

With that, the Mars Opportunity Rover was officially declared dead, its almost 15 years of service on Mars, on Sol 5352-the number of days Opportunity spent on Mars-came to an end.

One theory for the rover not powering up again was that the dust storm left a layer of dirt and silt on Opportunity's solar panels. The rover could no longer charge its solar-powered batteries and went into hibernation. "We had no idea it would take this long". Opportunity examined the first extraterrestrial meteorite and traveled 28 miles across the Meridiani Planum, which the mission crew affectionately called a "marathon", setting a new record for longest distance of any off-Earth terrain vehicle.

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

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Callas speculated that the balky heater may have played a role in Opportunity's demise. That storm darkened the skies and cut off of the rover's solar power.

"It probably won't be enough, going into winter, to move around and survive". "Even though it's a machine, saying goodbye, it's very hard and very poignant", he remarked.

"Science is an emotional affair, it's a team sport, and that's what we're celebrating today", he said.

Its identical twin, Spirit, was pronounced dead in 2011, a year after it got stuck in sand and communication ceased.

And NASA's InSight spacecraft, the first robotic lander created to study the deep interior of a distant world, touched down safely on the surface of Mars in November with instruments to detect planetary seismic rumblings never measured anywhere but Earth.

Yet another Mars rover, built on a Curiosity-style chassis with a different set of scientific instruments, will head for a promising target known as Jezero Crater next year. It managed to outlive its life expectancy by both chance and engineering.

In that future age, will someone visit Opportunity's resting place?

The Opportunity mission cost more than $1 billion, with about 300 JPL staff members dedicated to the project soon after it landed, John Callas, project manager for Mars Exploration Rovers, said by phone.

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