Opportunity was only given 90 days to live after landing on the tempestuous surface of Mars in 2004. Fourteen and a half years past its original 90 day mission, the little rover that could has finally ended its quest.
The news comes months after the Rover stopped replying to commands left by technicians on Earth. Despite over 835 attempts to revive Opportunity remotely, it was declared dead on February 13, 2019.
To the robot who turned 90 days into 15 years of exploration:
You were, and are, the Opportunity of a lifetime.
Rest well, rover. Your mission is complete.
— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) February 13, 2019
Over the course of its lifetime, Opportunity—known affectionately as “Oppy” by its inventors—provided crucial information to scientists, shedding light on the Red Planet’s wonders.
Its discovery of hematite—tiny pebbles that form in water—on the planet proved to scientists on Earth that water once existed on Mars.
Opportunity was only expected to travel a little over 1000 yards, but had traveled nearly 30 miles, well past its original landing site of Eagle Crater, exploring multiple surrounding craters and reporting back to scientists.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said:
“For more than a decade, Opportunity has been an icon in the field of planetary exploration, teaching us about Mars’ ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes.”
After a historic dust storm darkened the skies of Mars to the point that Opportunity could no longer receive solar power, the rover perished.
Humans across Earth sent condolences, remembering the rover fondly.
#ThanksOppy One day we will build a city where you rest now.
— Raymund (@RadarRaym) February 13, 2019
Someday a human will walk trough the face of Mars with the sole purpose of retrieving this rover to get it cleaned up and put in the First Mars Museum. Sleep Tight Mr. Bot.
— Matheus HS (@Mat_HS) February 13, 2019
For all its discoveries, Oppy still left humans asking one question.