Mars rover: Rover bites the dust on Mars, ending 15-year mission

Mars rover: Rover bites the dust on Mars, ending 15-year mission

Mars rover: Rover bites the dust on Mars, ending 15-year mission

Late previous year Nasa also landed the In Sight robot onto the surface of the Red Planet, to help scientists study mars-quakes deep beneath the surface.

The golf cart-size rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing on to the planet inside cushioning air bags in January 2004.

Mars 2020 project system engineer Jennifer Trosper, left, points to a replica of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity on 13/2/19. The Mars rover's team made its last attempt to contact Opportunity on Tuesday night, and it went unanswered.

Opportunity was created to operate for just 90 days on the martian surface but far outlived even the most ardent supporter's wildest expectations, roving 28 miles across the surface of Mars for more than 14 years. During the 15 years it spent trundling across the planet, the rover provided evidence confirming that water once flowed on the Martian surface - suggesting that Mars might once have been habitable - and beamed back a series of stark photos of the barren landscape. Earlier in Opportunity's mission days, a heater on its robotic arm failed to turn off, draining the rover's energy in the process.

Eleven years and two months after its landing on Mars, the total driving distance of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity surpassed the length of a marathon race: 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers).

The Mars Opportunity rover has now been abandoned after its power cut out on the surface of the Red Planet. By February 6, NASA reported that more than 835 recovery commands had been sent to the rover over a span of frequencies, including those outside its normal communications range.

Opportunity's primary objective was: To seek out historical evidence of the Red Planet's climate and water at sites where conditions may once have been favourable for life. Steve Squyres, a professor at Cornell University in the U.S. studying the history of water on the Red Planet, called Mars a "dry, desolate world".

The space agency will now attempt to contact Opportunity for the final time on Wednesday.

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The manager of the project, John Callas, described the decay of the machine as like "a loved one who's gone missing".

Michael Watkins, Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory commented on the mission's broader contribution to society: "Spirit and Opportunity energized the public about the spirit of Mars exploration".

InSight, a NASA mission to put another spacecraft on Mars, is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars.

Opportunity and Spirit launched in 2003 and landed on Mars in 2004, searching for signs of ancient life.

"I was actually in the room with the science team the night that Opportunity landed", says Fraeman.

"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our fearless astronauts walk on the surface of Mars", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

And NASA's InSight spacecraft, the first robotic lander created to study the deep interior of a distant world, touched down safely on the surface of Mars in November with instruments to detect planetary seismic rumblings.

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