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Opportunity did not respond to NASA's final call, and now it's gone



  Opportunity rover left its landing site at Eagle Crater on Mars in 2004.
Enlarge / Opportunity rover left its landing site at Eagle Crater on Mars in 2004. [19659003NASA

Late Tuesday evening, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent their last uplink data to the Opportunity rover on Mars. Over this connection, through Deep Space Network, American jazz singer Billie Holiday wrote "I'm Be Seeing You," a song that closes on lines:

I'll see you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll see the moon
But I'll see you

Scientists are waiting to hear some replies from their long quiet rover, in a global dust storm in June, it is likely to have its solar panels coated in a deadly layer of dust. Since then, the team of scientists and engineers has sent more than 835 commands, the rover hopes to wake up from its long slumber-that perhaps Mars winds may fall into some dust covering panels.

So Tuesday night, they listened. They thought. But finally, no response came. Opportunity was finally declared dead in Sol 5352, as in five thousand, three hundred, and fifty-two days on Mars. NASA is expected to make it official at 2 pm ET Wednesday, when NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and chief science science division, Thomas Zurbuchen, will convene a news conference.

Opportunity landed on Mars more than 1

5 Earth years ago, on January 25, 2004. Lots of hours have passed since then. Facebook can not be created until one month later. YouTube did not retrieve its first video upload for more than one year. George W. Bush is in his first presidency. The Cassini spacecraft of NASA has not yet reached the Saturn system.

And from that moment, Opportunity and its sister rover, Spirit began plugging over Mars. Originally designed for 90-day lifetimes, rovers continue. The Spirit lasted until 2010, if its batteries were unable to keep critical spacecraft components from freezing.

Keep going and going

But Opportunity is maintained in the midst of harsh terrain. It is surprisingly 45.16 kilometers across the red planet, a distance unmatched by any rover on the Moon or Mars. In 2016, while climbing the hill, the affordable Opportunity reached 32 degrees, the heaviest rover on Mars.

The main task of the rover on Mars is to better understand the planet's geology and understand the history of the water there. It succeeded. In one discovery, for example, found evidence of ancient waterless storms that could exist under a hot and shallow lake.

When the original rainstorm Opportunity last year, scientific missions were hoping to recover but rover. Of course, it is necessary to talk to two rather than four wheels, and the cigarette shows its age. But even though, its batteries keep 85 percent of their original capacity. But now, NASA scientists know that it will not emerge from the Perseverance Valley, a carved feature on the edge of the Endeavor Crater by flowing water at a very low age.

Spirit and Opportunity forgot. Their success led to NASA in the development of larger rovers, including Curiosity and the upcoming Mars 2020 rovers. The two experts carry more scientific equipment and will try deeper after Mars and if it may have been once supported by life.

Perhaps, most of all, Spirit and Opportunity will be celebrated for their survival in harsh conditions. One day, not in films but in real life, people expect to visit the sites of two rovers to succeed in their crude technology, dusty graves, and historical accomplishments. This would be the best recognition of humanity in two ancient Martian pioneers-that they are not the end of human exploration on Mars, but the beginning.


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