The veteran rover Mars, Opportunity, seems to have bitten the dust. The last robotic vehicle the size of a golf stroller came into contact with the Earth eight months ago, but remained silent after being caught in a dust storm.
The rover landed on the red planet in January 2004, shortly after his twin – a rover called Spirit. However, the latter got stuck in the ground in 2009 and was declared dead in 2011.
In contrast, Opportunity continued to trample the surface of Mars and return data to Earth, playing the role of remote geologist. Over the past 15 years on Mars, Opportunity has totaled more than 45 km – although it is designed to cover 1,006 meters and last only 90 Martian days.
Opportunity made a lot of important discoveries, confirming that parts of Mars were once covered with water and could have been a habitable environment. Finding the first meteorite ever to be discovered on another planet, the rover also returned images, including the capture of a Martian "dust demon" deforming the surface of the planet and panoramic shots offering breathtaking views of Martian craters.
The last communication attempt on Tuesday night was, apparently, a touching affair. Tanya Harrison, a global scientist who worked at the mission tweeted, "There were tears. There were hugs. There were shared memories and laughter. "
Dr. Tanya Harrison
Spent the evening at JPL, the latest orders being sent to the rover Opportunity on #March. 💔
Mike Seibert, who was also part of the team, paid tribute to the rover, nicknamed "Oppy", saying "Bye my old friend" and noting that the rover was the longest surface mission to date. .
Opportunity was the most enduring mission on the surface and furthest away from the history of mankind.
Out of a projected total of 100 soils at Meridiani and one kilometer of driving, she exceeded all expectations with 45.2 kilometers traveled on 5,111 soils.
Hi to the Queen of Mars. pic.twitter.com/TWJyOwMKmv
The mission is expected to be officially declared ended by NASA during a press conference on Wednesday at 19:00 (GMT).