NASA's Mars rover pronounced dead: 'Farewell, Opportunity, and well done'

Opportunity's record-setting mission on Mars appears to have reached its end

An artist's impression of Opportunity on Mars. The NASA rover has traveled more than 28 miles on Mars since arriving in January 2004

In June 2018, a huge dust storm hit Mars and made it hard for the robot's solar panels to maintain power. Opportunity's batteries went through more than 5,000 charging cycles, and were still capable of holding an 85 percent charge after more than 14 years of use. Its twin, Spirit, worked on the red planet for nearly six years.

Opportunity had an initial goal of covering 700 yards (640 meters) and operating for just 90 days on the surface of Mars.

Opportunity went far beyond what anyone thought it would be able to withstand.

Oppy's twin Spirit successfully finished its mission in 2010.

A mosaic of images taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) during the 2,811th to 2,814th Martian days, or sols, of the rover's mission. The six-wheeled vehicle's death is being attributed to a severe dust storm, according to the Associated Press. They rocketed from Cape Canaveral a month apart in 2003. "But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say "enough" and move on with your life".

"When Opportunity landed back in 2004, I was actually in high school", said MER deputy project scientist Abigail Fraeman, "I was a high school junior, but I had the incredible opportunity to come to JPL and actually be here when the rovers landed".

Opportunity made invaluable scientific contributions and inspired a whole generation. "And they see us on TV jumping up and down like we just won the Super Bowl".

Eleven years and two months after its landing on Mars, the total driving distance of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity surpassed the length of a marathon race: 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers). Instead, the rover has persisted for 15 years, sending back incredible data and photos from Mars to help uncover the Red Planet's secrets. Opportunity traveled roughly 28 miles before an intense dust storm on June 10, 2018 sent the rover into hibernation.

Opportunity and Spirit were built to last 90 days, but Opportunity far exceeded that number, roving for almost 15 years.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will be present, as well as the heads of NASA's planetary science and of Opportunity's rover program.

Both rovers found plenty of evidence that Mars was relatively warm and wet long ago, with environments that could well have supported life as we know it. Spirit, for example, rolled through an ancient hydrothermal system, revealing that at least some parts of Mars also featured energy sources that ancient organisms could have exploited.

When the dust cloud cleared, there was no word from Opportunity. Now it's getting colder and darker at Mars, further dimming prospects.

Nasa believes the device's lengthy outing will have scrambled its clock, which will have drained the rover's batteries.

"And it's the technical legacy of the Mars Exploration Rovers, which is carried aboard Curiosity and the upcoming Mars 2020 mission. Now she can rest, beneath a thin layer of dust, knowing she did humanity proud", Tanya Harrison, director of research for the Space Technology and Science Initiative at Arizona State University and science team collaborator on Opportunity, told Astronomy.

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