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techkenyot.com February 18, 2019


JPL Says RIP To The Mars Rover

13 February 2019, 11:22 | Edward Lowe

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

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

A dust storm that swept the planet in May 2018 is suspected to have blocked the machine from receiving sun rays to charge its solar panels.

NASA's Opportunity rover mission was one of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said: "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". The golf cart-size rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning air bags in January 2004. The rover's team made their last attempt to contact Opportunity last night, and it went unanswered. "I have to tell you, this is an emotional time", he added.

In the end, Opportunity set endurance and distance records that are years, if not decades, from being broken.

Opportunity was easily the longest-lasting lander on Mars, despite being created to last just 90 days, and also set a roaming record of 45 kilometres before coming to rest, somewhat fittingly, in Perseverance Valley.

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The golf cart-size Opportunity outlived its twin, the Spirit rover, by several years. Flight controllers sent more than 1,000 recovery commands, all in vain.

Project manager John Callas said, "It's just like a loved one who's gone missing, and you keep holding out hope that they will show up and that they're healthy ..."

Opportunity was, by far, the longest-lasting lander on Mars.

"But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say "enough" and move on with your life". It was supposed to last for 90 days.so here we are 15 years later.

JPL engineers sent the final official transmission to the rover last night, but communications back to NASA ended last June, according to NASA.

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The experience inspired her to pursue a career at JPL; Fraeman is now a deputy project scientist on the Mars exploration rover project, and works with Opportunity nearly daily.

When the sky finally cleared, Opportunity remained silent, its internal clock possibly so scrambled that it no longer knew when to sleep or wake up to receive commands.

Scientists consider this the end of an era, now that Opportunity and Spirit are both gone.

Now it is up to Curiosity and the InSight lander to carry on the legacy, Mr Callas said, along with spacecraft in orbit around Mars.

"Mars is now part of our neighbourhood".

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