'Opportunity is dead': 5 things to know about NASA’s Mars rover
Opportunity and Spirit returned over 342,000 raw images of the Martian surface (Photo: NASA)
Opportunity rover that helped lay the groundwork for NASA's return to the Red Planet has officially been declared dead. After 15 years on the Martian surface, NASA's Opportunity rover has stopped functioning. The Opportunity rover stopped communicating with Earth when a severe Mars-wide dust storm blanketed its location in June 2018. The community of researchers and engineers involved in the program were in mourning over the passing of the rover, known affectionately as Oppy. Opportunity not only leaves behind a legacy of discovery, but it also became the longest-running rover. It travelled 28 miles and captured 217,594 raw images. It will probably stay where it fell silent in Perseverance Valley.
"For more than a decade, Opportunity has been an icon in the field of planetary exploration, teaching us about Mars' ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet, and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "Whatever loss we feel now must be tempered with the knowledge that the legacy of Opportunity continues — both on the surface of Mars with the Curiosity rover and InSight lander — and in the clean rooms of JPL, where the upcoming Mars 2020 rover is taking shape."
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5 things to know about NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover
- The Mars Exploration Rovers mission featured two identical, solar-powered rovers: Spirit and Opportunity. Spirit landed at Gusev Crater on January 4, 2004. Opportunity landed on the opposite side of Mars at Meridiani Planum on January 24, 2004, according to NASA.
- Opportunity and Spirit was launched in 2003 and landed on Mars in 2004, searching for signs of ancient life. Opportunity's mission has led to many discoveries about the Red Planet.
- Designed to last just 90 Martian days and travel 1,100 yards (1,000 meters), Opportunity vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity. In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the rover travelled more than 28 miles (45 kilometres) by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on Mars - Perseverance Valley, according to NASA.
- Opportunity and Spirit returned over 342,000 raw images of the Martian surface. The two rovers also produced 31 stunning 360-degree colour panoramas.
- Curiosity and the upcoming Mars 2020 rovers build upon the lessons of Spirit and Opportunity.
First Published: Thursday, February 14, 2019 09:01 AM