This year we said goodbye to one of our most intrepid planetary explorers, the Opportunity rover. Take a look back at its storied 15-year mission on Mars, and how it revolutionized our understanding of not just the red planet, but our solar system at large.
Opportunity was the second of the two rovers launched in 2003 to land on Mars and begin traversing the Red Planet in search of signs of past life. The rover is still actively exploring the Martian terrain, having far outlasted her planned 90-day mission.
Since landing on Mars in 2004, Opportunity has made a number of discoveries about the Red Planet including dramatic evidence that long ago at least one area of Mars stayed wet for an extended period and that conditions could have been suitable for sustaining microbial life.
The Opportunity rover stopped communicating with Earth when a severe Mars-wide dust storm blanketed its location in June 2018. After more than a thousand commands to restore contact, engineers in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) made their last attempt to revive Opportunity Tuesday, February 13, 2019, to no avail. The solar-powered rover’s final communication was received June 10.
June 10, 2018: End of mission
– Panoramic camera (Pancam)
– Microscopic Imager (MI)
– Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES)
– Mossbauer Spectrometer (MB)
– Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS)
– Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT)
– Magnet arrays
– Hazard Avoidance Cameras (Hazcams)
– Navigation Cameras (Navcams)