NASA’s Opportunity, the stealthy little rover meant to last only three months, has officially been pronounced dead after traversing the surface of Mars for the past fifteen years.
Today, we're saying #ThanksOppy as the @MarsRovers mission comes to an end. 6 things to know about our record-breaking, discovery-making, marathon-driving rover, which found that ancient Mars was awash in water… and some of the best images it sent back: https://t.co/ZR7pxBP1ZF pic.twitter.com/2L0gzr4WNJ
— NASA (@NASA) February 13, 2019
According to the Associated Press, the six-wheeled vehicle NASA had sent to the planet to gather information about whether ancient Mars ever supported life, had its life cut short eight months ago during the fiercest dust storm to hit the planet in decades. The dust storm was so intense, the sky was left darkened for months preventing sunlight from reaching the rover’s solar panels.
The Associated Press are reporting flight controllers tried numerous times to make contact with Opportunity, sending out one final series of recovery commands, to no avail. In an emotional moment, the team sent out Billie Holiday’s I’ll Be Seeing You as a wake-up song that was met with only silence.
“This is a hard day,” project manager John Callas said. “Even though it’s a machine and we’re saying goodbye, it’s still very hard and very poignant, but we had to do that. We came to that point.”
After 800+ attempts to contact @MarsRovers Opportunity, today we’re announcing the end of a successful Martian mission. Intended to explore the Red Planet for 90 days, Oppy outlived its mission lifetime by 14+ years. Join us live now: https://t.co/zJwTTpQNwp #ThanksOppy pic.twitter.com/U4J26TfzDv
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) February 13, 2019
According to the Associated Press, “Callas said the last-ditch attempt to make contact the night before was a sad moment, with tears and a smattering of applause when the operations team signed off. He said the team members didn’t even bother waiting around to see if word came back from space — they knew it was hopeless.”