Opportunity realized and lost: an ode to a friend in space
NASA’s Opportunity rover is now considered permanently out of commission. Officials attribute this death to a dust storm that ended communication with the rover in the summer of 2018.
Opportunity landed on Mars 15 years ago in 2004 and was expected to last only 90 days. Astoundingly the rover sustained and survived for 5,111 days for more than 1.5 decades. It is immortalized by a selfie it took to mark its 5000th Martian day. It has set a number of records on its 28-mile journey across Mars and has lasted longer by far more than any other Mars rover in history.
Six months ago, Opportunity encountered one of the most ferocious Martian sandstorms that blocked its solar panels. This meant the rover couldn’t draw power perpetually from the sun anymore, and could only rely on its power cell to run.
“My battery is low and it is getting dark.”
That was the last message from Opportunity. It was heard on 10th June, 2018. Opportunity went dark a long time ago, but NASA were waiting on it, hoping it would resurface. But now, an emotional NASA stuff has informed that they sent over a thousand messages to Opportunity trying to get it to respond. They considered Opportunity as a family member and had given it the nickname of Oppy.
The weather on Mars is expected to face an extended cold spell which would destroy the powering components on Opportunity. In the end, Opportunity lived up to the title bestowed upon it, providing mankind with the opportunity to uncover a few more secrets of the vast reaches of space. Its mission completed, Opportunity will rest at the edge of Perseverance Valley.
See you, space cowboy.