NASA rover finally bites the dust on Mars after 15 years

NASA rover finally bites the dust on Mars after 15 years

NASA rover finally bites the dust on Mars after 15 years

"To have a 90-day mission last for 15 years, and then end as a effect of one of the most ferocious dust storms to hit Mars in a very long time, we can walk away with our heads held high", Steve Squyres, a Cornell professor and principal investigator on the mission, told Gizmodo. 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 agency will have made one final attempt to contact its Opportunity Rover late last night United States of America time (Tuesday), eight months after the spacecraft last made contact.

Rover robots found signs of water in the first rocks they encountered on Mars, as rocks near the aircraft's landing site contained pearl-shaped rocks.

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

Its identical twin, Spirit, was pronounced dead in 2011, a year after it got stuck in sand and communication ceased.

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"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". They rocketed from Cape Canaveral a month apart in 2003.

The manager of the project, John Callas, described the decay of the machine as like "a loved one who's gone missing".

"But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say "enough" and move on with your life".

"This is a celebration of so many achievements", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, during Wednesday's press conference at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Rather than viewing the dust storm as bad luck, Callas considers it "good luck that we skirted so many possible storms' over the years".

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Global dust storms tend to happen every few years and "we had gone a long time without one".

Nasa's Opportunity on Mars was to search for clues about the history of water.

The last signal received from the $400 million solar-powered rover was on June 10, 2018. The storm was so intense that it darkened the sky for months, preventing sunlight from reaching the rover's solar panels.

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.

"Mars is now part of our neighbourhood", he added.

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