So Long, Opportunity And Thanks For All The Science

Later today NASA will likely announce that the Opportunity rover has ceased operations. The rover had not been heard from since June 10, 2018, when the global dust storm that enveloped Mars sent it into hibernation. Over the last few months, NASA has regularly tried to contact the rover, with the latest attempt made on February 12.

Opportunity is a testament to the hard work and quality that space missions are designed to produce. The rover's goal was to operate for 90 days on the Red Planet. It tracked across the Martian surface for 14 years and 293 days, 55 times longer than its planned lifetime. It was also the first rover to complete a marathon in space, and in total, Opportunity clocked up 45.16 kilometers (28.06 miles) of distance during its many years of operation.

Opportunity’s mission was successful from the get-go. Within three months of landing, the rover had already uncovered evidence that liquid water once drenched the surface of Mars. In its almost 14 years of service, it discovered extra-Martian meteorites, explored several new sites like the Endeavour crater in detail, and analyzed the planet's rock and soil. But it was more than just a remote-control geologist. It performed, with the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter, the first atmospheric temperature profile of Mars. It also made important astronomical observations, for example, it recorded the transits of Phobos and Deimos (the Martian moons) across the Sun.

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