Science

NASA to make final attempt to contact Mars Opportunity Rover

NASA to make final attempt to contact Mars Opportunity Rover

NASA announced today that the extraordinary 15-years of service by the Mars Opportunity Rover has officially come to an end in an emotional, hour-long press conference.

The golf cart-size rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing on to the planet inside cushioning air bags in January 2004.

"When I think of Opportunity, I will recall that place on Mars where our intrepid rover far exceeded everyone's expectations", John Callas, manager of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project at JPL said.

Yesterday, Nasa told the world that it's Opportunity Mars Rover was dead eight months after it was caught in a mega-powerful dust storm.

Flight controllers made numerous attempts to contact it and sent one final series of recovery commands on Tuesday night, accompanied by one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday's I'll Be Seeing You.

NASA's Opportunity, the Mars rover that was built to operate for just three months but kept going and going, rolling across the rocky red soil, was pronounced dead Wednesday, 15 years after it landed on the planet.

NASA is saying farewell to its Opportunity rover on Mars after having been out of communication with the robot for about a year.

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Some in the Martian exploration community criticized NASA for its plan to rouse the rover.

"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our courageous astronauts walk on the surface of Mars", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

"I can not think of a more appropriate place for Opportunity to endure on the surface of Mars than one called Perseverance Valley", said Michael Watkins, director of JPL.

There are also more set to launch next year including NASA's Mars 2020 rover. Spirit, too, lasted much longer than planned, finally going dim forever in 2010 after a sand trap crippled the machine, limiting its ability to reorient and receive adequate sunlight to power itself. It's definitely a sad day, but it's hard to be upset when you consider the incredible job Opportunity did during its lengthy Mars adventure, and NASA is more than pleased with everything it accomplished during its time on the Red Planet. That included finding evidence of past water on Mars that had a neutral pH, rather than acidic. This, in turn, has fueled what we look for on Mars- which is to say, water and clues to if life could ever have arisen on Mars. Opportunity traveled roughly 28 miles before an intense dust storm on June 10, 2018 sent the rover into hibernation.

The rover was as only created to survive for 90 days on the surface of Mars but kept on trundling for 15 years.

Opportunity was the fifth of eight spacecraft to successfully land on Mars so far, all belonging to NASA.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who broke the news to team members gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that although some people were "a little choked up", the general mood was one of celebration. Opportunity was created to explore and take pictures of Mars' Gale crater - thought to once have been a giant lake - and look for signs the planet once held life.