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NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover is dead

NASA Oppotunity Rover
Designed to last just 90 Martian days and travel 1,100 yards (1,000 meters) Opportunity Rover exceeded its life expectancy by over 60 times

NASA has ended its attempts to re-establish communication with Mars Opportunity Rover, effectively signalling the end of the mission.

NASA had lost contact with Opportunity Mars Rover back in June 2018 during a global dust storm on the red planet which was one of the most ferocious in the last few decade.

The rover, whose initial mission was only for 90 days, has been hard at work since and has outlasted expectation by completing 15 years of exploration.

“We have made every reasonable engineering effort to try to recover Opportunity,”
John Callas, manager of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project at JPL

The NASA engineers were hoping against odds that the rover has revived but is unable to communicate due to issues with its radio, and focused its recovery attempts for the fringe scenarios.

This followed almost 600 previous attempts in the last few months to communicate with the rover with NASA’s radio antenna constantly sending commands.

Drive along with the NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Opportunity Rover was on verge of a massive discovery

Mars Opportunity Rover
Oppotunity Rover had lost contact 8 months ago.
Credits NASA/JPL

The Opportunity was exploring a small channel likely formed by flowing water on ancient Mars. The rover had just started going down the channel to explore where it led to confirm if it was indeed water that had created the landscape when it was hit by the dust storms.

However, with NASA calling off the mission, the mystery remains and it would take decades before NASA sends another probe to observe the channel.

Had it succeeded, it would have been one of the hundreds of achievement that it had amassed in its 15 years on the neighbouring planet.

The final hurdle

This is not the first time that Opporunity faced a hurdle, in 2005, the year it landed, one of the front wheels were compromised and steering capabilities were lost.

In the same year, a heater malfunction almost destroyed the batteries and a sand trap had it trapped for almost a month.

Last year, the second front wheel also lost steering, but somehow the NASA engineers managed to keep it going.

Opportunity also managed to survive a previous dust storm that lasted almost two-month in 2007 however, the dust storm it faced last June, the biggest and most ferocious in decades, turned out to be too much.

Farewell, Opportunity, and well done.

The world.

Source: NASA/JPL

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