Very sad today to hear that if there would be no response in today’s final attempt from NASA to make contact with the Opportunity Rover, then the mission is likely to be called to its end. The Rovers (Curiosity, Opportunity and Spirit) had been my sporadic fascination of mine and had always cropped up randomly in my, often nerdy conversations. Spirit, however, got stuck in the soil in 2009 and was declared dead around 2011. Curiosity, on the other hand, is still trekking on.
Opportunity spent most of its life, more so than its supposed expiration date, trundling along the red planet gathering and sending data back to the NASA headquarters. Unfortunately, the robotic vehicle about the size of a golf-buggy, acting as our very own remote geologist ever since, came into contact with the planet’s mega dust storm and had since failed to send any responses back to Earth since June last year.
Despite everything, Spirit and Opportunity had outlived and outperformed their expectations! From The Guardian:
Opportunity has made a host of important discoveries, among them confirming that parts of Mars were once covered in water, and could have been a habitable environment, and finding the first meteorite ever to be discovered on another planet. The rover has also sent back stunning images, including capturing a Martian “dust devil” twisting across the planet’s surface and panoramic shots that provided breathtaking views of Martian craters.
Science reporter Jacob Margolis had written a very informative, yet an emotional Twitter thread on Opportunity’s adventure, along with its final message (“My battery is low and it’s getting dark.”) and some images.
Tanya Harrison, a planetary scientist who worked on the mission also tweeted: “There were tears. There were hugs. There were memories and laughs shared.”
We are very proud of you, Oppy, as well as with the humans who have worked relentlessly behind you and this project. Rest in knowledge, science, and humanity. #GoodNightOppy