The end of the road for Opportunity
The NASA Opportunity Rover, after more than 14 years of service as an explorer in the planet of Mars and enduring all the trials the red planet threw at it, Opportunity finally met her match at the hands of a sandstorm that engulfed the whole planet, which rendered her immobile, and after eight months of failed attempts to communicate with her, NASA declared that opportunity completed it’s mission, and dubbed it’s final resting place “Perseverance Valley”.
“I cannot think of a more appropriate place for Opportunity to endure on the surface of Mars than one called Perseverance Valley,” said Michael Watkins, director of JPL. “The records, discoveries and sheer tenacity of this intrepid little rover is testament to the ingenuity, dedication, and perseverance of the people who built and guided her.”
“We have made every reasonable engineering effort to try to recover Opportunity and have determined that the likelihood of receiving a signal is far too low to continue recovery efforts,” said John Callas, manager of the Mars Exploration Rover project.
The Opportunity Rover was shut down on June 10th of last year during a dust storm that covered a full quarter of the red planet, said storm blotted out any sunlight that could have reached to the solar panels of the explorer, forcing it to go into a state of hibernation, this prompted the team in Earth to make several attempts to rouse her from slumber, but to no avail, and with Mars approaching it’s cold season, the Opportunity will surely suffer irreparable damage due to the frost.
While Opportunity’s journey is officially over, her contributions to establishing the fact that Mars was a more water-rich environment in the past, setting a record as the robot who’s spent working the longest in Mars, and her general contributions of showing us the beauty of the red planet trough her pictures, all in spite of arriving to Mars with a life expectancy of only 90 days, but instead broke trough everyone’s expectations and lasting for more than 14 years, will hopefully cement her performance as a precedent for any future research mission that any aspiring star explorer, human or mechanical, will strive to outdo.
“When I think of Opportunity, I will recall that place on Mars where our intrepid rover far exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Callas said. “But what I suppose I’ll cherish most is the impact Opportunity had on us here on Earth. It’s the accomplished exploration and phenomenal discoveries. It’s the generation of young scientists and engineers who became space explorers with this mission. It’s the public that followed along with our every step. And it’s the technical legacy of the Mars Exploration Rovers, which is carried aboard Curiosity and the upcoming Mars 2020 mission. Farewell, Opportunity, and well done.”