The Little Mars Rover that Could
June, 2018. My battery is low and its getting dark –Opportunity, last message sent by the Mars rover to NASA.
NASA Mars Rover, Opportunity, was launched on July 7, 2003 from Cape Canaveral. NASA expected Opportunity to last no longer than 90 days; it was declared dead only last week, Wednesday February 13, 2019. Opportunity outlasted it predicted lifespan by over 14 years.
Its mission; to go where no man had gone before and do what no man can yet do. Throughout its 14 year journey, Opportunity traversed the Martian landscape and endured the Red Planet’s harsh storms. Opportunity’s discoveries would prove to be vital for the scientific community. It discovered definitive proof that liquid water had once flowed on the red planet’s surface and that, at a time, Mars had conditions for life. Its 14 year lifespan provided a comprehensive understanding of the Maritain rock formation, environment, and atmosphere that will prove to be critical to the success of future missions.
In June 2018, NASA scientists monitored a massive dust storm that blotted out much of Mar’s sky. This last storm provided to be too much for the little robot reports National Geographic. Opportunity’s last message read as “My battery is low and its getting dark.” It is suspected that due its severity, the dust damaged Opportunity’s solar panels. Since then there have been 830 attempts to reach out to Opportunity, though none have been successful, CNET reports.
According to The New York Times, on February 13, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, stated, “It is therefore that I am standing here with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission as complete.”
Opportunity will now remain forever in its final resting spot, Perseverance Valley appropriately named for the rover’s enduring effort. As the final chapter for Opportunity comes to an end; the information it provided will go on to write the next chapter for the rest of us. With Opportunity’s tremendous sacrifice I find it hard to say farewell, instead I want to say, “hang on, we’ll be there shortly.”