Tech UPTechnologyAfter 15 years, the end of Opportunity has come

After 15 years, the end of Opportunity has come

The Opportunity rover it has given in to the intense Martian dust storm that knocked it out in June 2018. The end of the road is coming.

The US space agency (NASA) made one last attempt to contact Opportunity Rover on Tuesday night, eight months after their last contact. Without success, they have officially declared the end of the mission.

The Opportunity rover landed on Mars in 2004 and has since covered 45 kilometers on the planet, securing its place in history after lasting well beyond the initial mission planned for just 90 days.

However, last year a gigantic dust storm blocked sunlight from Mars, preventing Opportunity’s solar batteries from being able to recharge. Despite the incredible efforts of NASA engineers to obtain a response through radio channels, their last communication was on June 10, 2018. They decided to wait a few months to reassess the situation pending awakening. of the rover. A communication that never came.

Opportunity scoured the Martian surface for nearly a decade and a half, covering more than marathon terrain and finding conclusive evidence that the Red Planet harbored large bodies of liquid water in the ancient past. The golf cart-sized rover and its twin, Spirit, have made Mars a familiar place.

Spirit and Opportunity were released separately . Spirit first came down and settled in a crater called Gusev located about 14 degrees south of the Martian equator. Opportunity landed on the equatorial Meridiani Planum Plain, across the planet from Gusev, in 2004.

Both rovers embarked on surface missions designed for about 90 Earth days, during which they looked for signs of water activity in the past. Such evidence had previously been seen from NASA’s Viking 1 and Viking 2 orbiters, for example, which photographed what appeared to be ancient river channels on the dusty surface of Mars. But it was Opportunity who gave us the answer.

“It conclusively established the presence of persistent surface liquid water on Mars,” commented John Callas of JPL. “We had always speculated about it and seen evidence, but the mineral signature was confirmed by Opportunity.”

Opportunity’s analyzes of clay minerals on the planet’s surface indicated that at least some of this ancient water, which flowed 4 billion – 3.5 billion years ago, had a relatively neutral pH. I mean, it wasn’t too acidic.

The great sandstorm arrived

The storm knocked out Opportunity on June 10.

“We needed a historic dust storm to finish this historic mission ,” said MER deputy investigator Abigail Fraeman of JPL during the Opportunity mission end announcement event.

The dust storm began to die down in late July and, by mid-September, had subsided so much that NASA began a concerted effort to contact Opportunity. Everyone’s hope was that the strong breezes would wash some of the dust off the rover’s solar panels, allowing Opportunity to recharge its batteries and finally wake up.

Something that has not happened and, apparently, will never happen. So, for the first time in 15 years, we will have to get used to a world without the Opportunity rover. Thanks for everything.

Reference: NASA

Image credit: NASA

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