NASA is Finally Ready to Say Goodbye to its Opportunity Rover


Last Opportunity

After 15 years of crawling across the surface of Mars, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) team sent the last-ever commands to its Opportunity rover today. The rover landed on Mars in 2004 for what started as a 90-day mission. It has since become the longest-running rover NASA has ever sent to Mars.

A vicious dust storm forced Opportunity into radio silence back in June — the fiercest Martian storm NASA had ever observed. Dust covering the rover’s solar panels caused it to drain its battery reserves. Now, a bitterly cold Martian winter means that Opportunity had virtually no chance of waking itself up.

Its last message home, according to science reporter Jacob Margolis: “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.”

A Successful Career

Opportunity allowed us to uncover a number of Mars’ secrets.

In 2004, the rover’s high-resolution images revealed the presence of hematite — a mineral that typically forms in water. In 2012, it found a patch of nearly pure silica that might have originated from a hot-spring-like environment. Clay minerals and veins of gypsum gave scientists even more evidence for the historical presence of water on Mars.

Demise on Mars

NASA will hold a press conference this afternoon to reveal the fate of its much-beloved rover.

May it rest in peace.

READ MORE: NASA is saying goodbye to its Opportunity rover on Mars after eight months of radio silence [The Verge]

More on Opportunity: NASA’s Opportunity Rover Feared Dead: “An Honorable Death”

The post NASA is Finally Ready to Say Goodbye to its Opportunity Rover appeared first on Futurism.

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