After 15 years, the Mars Opportunity rover’s mission has ended

A heavy spacecraft would need rockets for braking and steering but could also be flown to steer itself through lift

The agency will have made one final attempt to contact its Opportunity Rover late last night United States of America time (Tuesday), eight months after the spacecraft last made contact. The rover is solar-powered and would be unable to charge its batteries and operate if its solar panels have been covered by a significant amount of dust.

Nasa's Mars rover could be declared dead in a matter of hours after an unexpectedly long career roaming the planet.

NASA made its last planned attempts to communicate with Opportunity late on Tuesday, but did not receive any response back. Flight controllers tried to awaken the rover, devising and sending command after command, month after month.

Nasa's Opportunity on Mars was to search for clues about the history of water.

The manager of the project, John Callas, described the decay of the machine as like "a loved one who's gone missing".

"But each passing day that diminishes, and at some point you have to say enough and move on with your life."

Deputy project scientist Abigail Fraeman said, "It gives you an idea just how long this mission has lasted".

Now it is becoming colder and darker on Mars, further dimming prospects.

"Opportunity's just been a workhorse ... it's really a testament, I think, to how well the mission was designed and how careful the team was in operating the vehicle".


Rather than viewing the dust storm as bad luck, Callas considers it "good luck that we skirted so many possible storms' over the years".

The rover was as only created to survive for 90 days on the surfaceA of Mars but kept on trundling for 15 years.

Since last summer, NASA has sent over 1,000 commands to the rover, and have received no response.

"You could have lost a lot of money over the years betting against Opportunity", said the professor.

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

Meanwhile, the Curiosity rover, which was unaffected by the storm, and the stationary InSight lander, continue to study the Red Planet and carry on missions of discovery that were founded by Opportunity and Spirit. It's especially frustrating, according to Callas, not knowing precisely why Opportunity-or Spirit-failed.

The scientist said the machine "has given us a larger world".

In November 2018 NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet.

"Mars is now part of our neighbourhood", he added.

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