The record-breaking 15-year-long Mars mission of NASA's Opportunity rover was declared over after the U.S. space agency failed to contact the robotic explorer for over eight months. The last words Opportunity sent back are enough to drive grown men to tears. There was no response from space, only silence. However Opportunity's epic 15-year mission is now at an end, triggering an unparalleled outpouring of grief online.
"This is a hard day", project manager John Callas said at an auditorium packed with hundreds of current and former members of the team that oversaw Opportunity and its long-deceased identical twin, Spirit. "It was an honorable end, and it came a whole lot later than any of us expected". Mind you, the initial mission was for 90 days, so Opportunity lived for 58 times that long.
The fifteen years that Opportunity spent on the Red Planet had been full of challenges that required its engineers to be resourceful. The last time Oppy phoned home was in June 2018 right before it disappeared into a black-out dust storm that covered the massive planet.
The U.S. government is relying more than ever on private companies to explore and develop technology in space, whether its reaching the International Space Station, returning to the surface of the moon or getting humans to Mars for the first time. It acted as roving geologists that help researchers on their goal to prove that other lives existed on Mars.
NASA documents indicate the earliest date for an American to tread the lunar surface again is 2028.
"We want this reusability, we want this sustainability, but we also want to go fast", said Bridenstine.
I could go on and on.
NASA has finally said goodbye to its Opportunity Rover, which stopped responding eight months ago after a severe dust storm on Mars.
Sadly, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed that their final attempt to contact the rover, known affectionately as Oppy, has failed. The agency said that after eight months of sending more than 1,000 radio signals and commands, but still had no response from the rover, NASA concluded its efforts to communicate and accepted the awful fate of Opportunity. In November, the agency awarded contracts to nine companies, making them eligible to compete for future task orders to delivery payloads.
Opportunity launched just before midnight July 7, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Florida.
With the seismometer, which would measure any possible seismic activity on the Red Planet, and the HP3 instrument, which would take the temperature of Mars, NASA's InSight would try to estimate if Mars is geologically active.
Three more landers - from the US, China and Europe - are due to launch next year.
The Trump administration has said a return to the moon is a top priority.
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