NASA’s Opportunity Rover Dies After 14 Years of Mars Exploration

NASA Opportunity rover plunged into deep space at age 15. The probe spent over 5,000 days rolling through the inhabitable Martian land. On Wednesday NASA admitted that its solar-powered observatory is no more. Since June 2018, the space agency triggered many commands to wake up the probe, but it did not reply. Thus NASA assumed that the observatory is dead. The news rolled out during an event at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California. Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, announced the accomplishment of Opportunity mission. He also declared the end of the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

Last year, on 30th May, NASA’s dynamic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected the dust storm on the Martian land. The cyclone quickly enlarged in size. That’s the reason behind Opportunity’s demise. The massive sandstorm entirely covered its solar panels for an extended period of time. The covering blocked onboard power supply which is essential for Opportunity’s survival. Some of its most critical components also stopped running due to lack of energy. NASA’s ground staff lastly received signals from the rover on June 10, 2018. The probe had sufficient power to survive for a few months, but the end seemed to be close. The team has been trying from the past eight months to communicate with the observatory. They used different approaches to get a reply from the rover.

The researchers assumed that the rover might have lost its memory or faced equipment failure. They did not lose hopes and aimed to reprogram and refresh it. But a little radio support was a must. The team’s every contact method met with silence. The Opportunity rover went silent due to solar power deficiency. The probe and its twin, Spirit, helped to explore and learn the Martian land. Spirit ended its journey at the age of 7 and traveled about 7.7 km throughout its life. But Opportunity exceeded its life for seven more years and covered a distance of 45 km. It’s not easy to accept reality; it feels bad when a hardworking probe shuts down. But their work is one of the outstanding discovery, and we should celebrate their remarkable victory.

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