Published: Fri, February 15, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

NASA declares Opportunity Mars rover mission over

NASA declares Opportunity Mars rover mission over

The robot has been missing since the U.S. space agency lost contact during a dust storm in June a year ago and was declared officially dead on Wednesday, ending one of the most fruitful missions in the history of space exploration.

Opportunity was created to operate for just 90 days on the martian surface but far outlived even the most ardent supporter's wildest expectations, roving 28 miles across the surface of Mars for more than 14 years. Rolling along until communication ceased last June, Opportunity roamed a record 28 miles around Mars and worked longer than any other lander. NASA last heard from Opportunity on June 10, 2018, after a dust storm encircled the planet, blocking the rover's solar panels.

Opportunity's primary objective was: To seek out historical evidence of the Red Planet's climate and water at sites where conditions may once have been favourable for life.

Today in a press conference at 11 A.M. PST, NASA announced the completion of the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

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's Mars Opportunity rover had quite the ride. It also started the clock on a 45-day period that NASA believed would be the best window of time for getting a response from the rover.

Project manager John Callas said: 'It's just like a loved one who's gone missing, and you keep holding out hope that they will show up and that they're healthy. Spirit died in 2010 when it got stuck in a sand trap and failed to charge its batteries.

Reuters A self-portrait of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, using a combination of multiple frames taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) is seen on Mars in 2014.

People also shared images that Opportunity had sent from Mars.

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As Opportunity explored craters on Mars, it gathered important evidence to demonstrate that the planet in the ancient past was wet and warm enough to possibly sustain life, NASA said. The two far exceeded the goals of their creators: In theory, their missions were supposed to last 90 days. Zurbuchen was present Tuesday night during a final planned attempt to reach the rover Tuesday evening, asking the rover to respond.

Pathfinder included a little rover called Sojourner, but that microwave-oven-size robot traveled a total of just 330 feet (100 meters) during its pioneering operational life.

The rover's observations helped scientists build the case that Mars once hosted significant amounts of liquid water.

"Today we get to celebrate the end of this mission", said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

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

The Curiosity rover has been exploring the planet since it landed there in 2012, and previous year sent back 16 pictures of the planet that scientists were put together to create a panoramic view of what Mars looks like.

Nasa's Opportunity on Mars.

In November 2018 NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet.

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