NASA to speak today on the fate of Mars Opportunity Rover


Late a year ago Nasa also landed the In Sight robot onto the surface of the Red Planet, to help scientists study mars-quakes deep beneath the surface.

The dust storm, which cut off light to Opportunity's solar panels and likely doomed its batteries to death, made it impossible for the rover to continue on, and NASA hasn't heard from it in over six months.

The solar-powered rover's demise was no surprise: It fell out of contact with controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., last June - due to a globe-girdling Martian dust storm that kept Opportunity from charging its batteries.

After months of trying and more than 800 unanswered recovery commands, the Opportunity team officially declared the rover dead Wednesday. The team at NASA had attempted to talk to Opportunity several times per week once the storm began to clear using the Deep Space Network, an worldwide array of giant radio antennas supporting interplanetary spacecraft missions, and over 600 attempts were made without any response received.

Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004 and covered 28 miles (45 kilometers) on the planet, securing its place in history after lasting well beyond its expected 90-day mission.

Meant to explore the Red Planet for 90 days, Opportunity outlived its mission lifetime by 14+ years'.

Update, Feb. 13, 10:10 a.m. PT: Adds NASA's last attempt to contact Opportunity on Tuesday.

Opportunity discovered that Mars had an ancient climate that may have sustained life, and worked on the surface of Mars for 14 years, longer than any other robot.

Some in the Martian exploration community criticized NASA for its plan to rouse the rover. NASA ended the mission for Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit, in 2011 after losing communication with it for more than a year.

In September, there was a ray of hope when pictures from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed Opportunity in the slopes of the Red Planet's Perseverance Valley.

More news: Amazon exploring potential alternatives to New York HQ
More news: Adam Levine likened to an 'awkward stripper' during Super Bowl performance
More news: Venezuelan opposition welcomes Canada's call for military backing

Yet another Mars rover, built on a Curiosity-style chassis with a different set of scientific instruments, will head for a promising target known as Jezero Crater next year.

NASA received a ping from the rover on June 10th, 2018 as it waited in low-power mode. Front and center is a flight spare of Sojourner, left is a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, right is test rover Curiosity. To overcome this issue, the team at NASA designed a deep sleep mode which shut down almost everything on Opportunity, including the heater.

The team is grateful for the long mission but sad to say goodbye.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the overriding goal is to search for evidence of past or even present microbial life at Mars and find suitable locations to send astronauts, perhaps in the 2030s.

The rover, along with its partner, Spirit, landed on Mars in 2004 as part of the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

"It is a hard day", said John Callas, manager of the Mars Exploration Rover project.

NASA's InSight lander remains on Mars after touching down on November 26.

NASA's Mars Opportunity rover had quite the ride.

In addition to its unprecedented lifespan, Opportunity provided the world with valuable geological information about Mars.

Opportunity was the fifth of eight spacecraft to successfully land on Mars, all belonging to NASA.