Science 2 min read

NASA Officially Declares Opportunity Mars Rover Dead

Artist's conception of Opportunity Mars rover on Martian surface | NASA JPL

Artist's conception of Opportunity Mars rover on Martian surface | NASA JPL

After nearly 15 years of roaming the barren lands of the Red Planet, NASA finally declared the Opportunity Mars rover dead. The agency made the announcement after numerous attempts to recover the robot rover failed.

Opportunity went silent in June last year after being trapped in a massive sandstorm that engulfed the whole surface of Mars. For the past eight months, NASA engineers and scientists tried over 1000 times to ping the rover in hopes of receiving a response.

Last month, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California tried new command strategies, on top of the “sweep and beep” technique initially used to communicate with the rover, to trigger Opportunity.

Late Tuesday night, NASA JPL scientists sent their final data uplink to the Opportunity Mars rover via the Deep Space Network. Sadly, no response came.

Read More: NASA Attempts Final Opportunity Rover Rescue Mission

Farewell Opportunity Mars Rover, Thank you for Your Service!

On Wednesday, NASA declared the Opportunity Mars Mission complete, permanently closing Opportunity rover’s fruitful chapter in Mars.

“I am standing here, with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude, to declare the Opportunity mission as complete, and with it the Mars Exploration Rovers mission as complete,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, said.

“We tried valiantly over these last eight months to try to recover the rover, to get some signal from it. It brought us to last night, and we sent our final commands, and we heard nothing. So, it comes time to say goodbye.”

The Opportunity Mars rover traveled a total of 28.06 miles across the Martian surface. It made many landmark discoveries that helped scientists study the Red Planet.

Among Opportunity’s many discoveries are the first meteorite found on another planet, over 100 impact craters on Mars, and the presence of water on our big red neighbor.

While it may be the end of Opportunity rover’s journey, NASA’s quest to further explore Mars is far from over. Last November, NASA’s InSight lander successfully landed on the Martian surface to begin its mission of gathering data on the deep interior of the planet.

Read More: NASA Gives Personality To InSight To Boost Engagement

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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