JPL Says RIP To The Mars Rover

Opportunity

The golf-cart-sized rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning airbags.

Its longevity and discoveries are a testament to Opportunity's design and construction.

The extra years that were chalked up by the rover meant that it was able to drive for far greater distances than planned. If you could stand on the surface of Mars right now and gave upon Opportunity, you'd find that its instruments were deployed just days before last contact, ready to do science.

Though hard for those who worked on Opportunity - some for all 15 years or longer - the mission was declared a huge success. He recalled visiting Antarctica and seeing the huts of early explorers' preserved exactly as they were when the expeditions ended.

The rover has not been heard from since June previous year when the storm blanketed the Red Planet, blocking sunlight and causing solar-powered Oppy to go into hibernation.

"I declare the Opportunity rover mission as complete", Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Associate Administrator, declared during a press briefing on Wednesday. None had been answered.

It's time to say goodbye to Opportunity.

Cornell University's Steve Squyres, lead scientist for both Opportunity and Spirit, considers succumbing to a ferocious storm an "honorable way" for the mission to end.

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The final commands were sent Tuesday night.

On July 7, 2003, NASA launched Opportunity.

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.

The interplanetary robot, which had been providing humans with never-before-seen images of Mars and vital data about the planet, is no longer operating, NASA announced on Wednesday. Both Opportunity and Spirit have helped NASA gain a better understanding of the formation and conditions of Mars.

Opportunity outlasted its lifespan by 60 times before it was declared dead and has taken its resting place at the appropriately named Perseverance Valley. Opportunity, which relied on sunlight to charge its batteries and keep its electronics warm, went to sleep as a protective measure against the prolonged period of darkness. Engineers had been attempting to communicate with it since August, when the skies had cleared enough.

After Opportunity went silent in June, NASA announced in September that the team would start a 45-day period of "active listening", which involved sending daily signals to the rover. Since the rover's flash memory stopped working - a problem Spirit also encountered - it couldn't remember anything before last shutting down, meaning it had to transfer all information it collected every day back to Earth - a 13-minute trip, even at the speed of light.

With Spirit and Opportunity now out of action, NASA is left with five spacecraft on or around Mars. That decision came after Opportunity failed to respond to a final set of commands transmitted to it by the Deep Space Network Feb. 12.

Rather than viewing the dust storm as bad luck, Callas considers it good luck that we skirted so many possible storms over the years.

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