JPL Says RIP To The Mars Rover

Opportunity

NASA's InSight lander to place heat flow probe on Mars

"Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, who was the principal investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover mission, recalled that the initial evidence suggested Mars" ancient water was highly acidic.

With Spirit and Opportunity now out of action, NASA is left with five spacecraft on or around Mars.

We're still awaiting official word from NASA in the form of a press briefing at 11am PST (2pm EST), but it seems certain that this is the end for the rover.

The craft, which arrived at the Red Planet in July 2004, has been out of communication since last summer. This will mark the end of a almost 15-year mission on Mars for the rover.

Eleven years and two months after its landing on Mars, the total driving distance of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity surpassed the length of a marathon race: 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers). The other rover, Spirit, didn't last as long as Opportunity, which persisted several years longer.

NASA last heard from Opportunity on June 10. Shortly afterwards, a planet-wide dust storm enveloped Perseverance Valley, stranding the rover.

Curiosity tweeted its farewell to Opportunity.

NASA is expected to share its update on the final effort to recover Opportunity shortly after they attempt to make contact again, as Oppy's fans around the world cross their fingers and look up to the skies in the hopes the rover will finally phone home again. It's been suggested by some on the team that Curiosity may not ever get the same life span, and Mars 2020 (you can guess when NASA intends to launch it) is a lot like an upgraded Curiosity.

The programme's end was emotionally hard for many at the facility, from which rover operations are conducted.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said the agency is planning to send another rover to the red planet in 2020. Instead, the rover has persisted for 15 years, sending back incredible data and photos from Mars to help unravel the Red Planet's secrets. It was there, using geological instruments, that it confirmed that liquid water was once present on Mars.

Its greatest achievement was discovering, along with Spirit, evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life.

On Tuesday, InSight deployed its "mole," or heat flow probe, on the Martian surface, and in the coming weeks, it will be the first probe to go more than 16 feet below the surface.

InSight also shared a fond farewell to Opportunity on Twitter. "It is therefore that I'm standing here with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission as complete". Nonetheless, both vehicles exceeded NASA's expectations - especially Opportunity. It's the public that followed along with our every step. Earlier in Opportunity's mission days, a heater on its robotic arm failed to turn off, draining the rover's energy in the process.

"Farewell, Opportunity, and well done".

NASA has vowed to send people to Mars by 2030, but experts say it could take at least 25 years from now before humans could survive on the planet.

"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our courageous astronauts walk on the surface of Mars", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

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