NASA Bids Farewell To Rover Opportunity



Maximilian Looft, Author

For more than 14 years, the rover on Mars known as Opportunity has been one of the leading scientific extraplanetary feats to work on the red planet, exploring 28 miles of the planet’s surface and living far beyond it’s 90-day expected lifespan.

Opportunity is well known for being the second rover on Mars, with its sibling, Spirit, landing just 20 days earlier on Jan 4, 2004. Opportunity was, however, able to outlast Spirit by a few years, with Spirit being lodged in soft soil in early 2010. In March of that year, communication was lost.

Opportunity would continue to go on even after Spirit was lost, making discoveries such as Hematite (which hinted at a past when Mars had flowing water), studying the layers in Endeavor Crater, and then going on to study two more craters.

Opportunity itself also faced many obstacles, such as the best way to go down into these craters. It lost steering in its front right wheel, momentarily got stuck in the sand, and even lost memory storage. Opportunity was able to withstand it all until a massive sandstorm encased Mars in the summer of 2018.

The sandstorm was not as severe as the previous sandstorm that encircled the planet back in 2007, but it was enough for Opportunity to go down. On June 10, NASA would receive its last message from Opportunity, and two days later, she went into hibernation. According to NASA, “After more than a thousand commands to restore contact, engineers… at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory made their last attempt to revive Opportunity Tuesday, to no avail.”

As Opportunity finishes its mission, people worldwide commemorate the rover that pushed through the Martian environment and lived 60 times longer than its expected life time.

Another day, Opportunity, you will be rediscovered by the first human Martians, and you will be one of the most valuable artifacts of humanity’s drive for knowledge. You will not be forgotten.