Mars Rover Opportunity Is Dead After Record-Breaking 15 Years on Red Planet

5 comments, 223 views, posted 8:55 pm 13/02/2019 in Sci-Fi, Science & Space by superuser
superuser has 2872 posts, 1748 threads, 906 points, location: Mars

One of the great exploration stories of our time is officially over.

NASA declared its Opportunity Mars rover dead today (Feb. 13), more than eight months after the solar-powered robot went silent during a raging dust storm on the Red Planet — and a day after the final calls to wake Oppy up went unanswered.

"I declare the Opportunity mission as complete, and with it the Mars Exploration Rover mission complete," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said today during an event at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. [Mars Dust Storm 2018: What It Means for Opportunity Rover]

Opportunity roamed the Martian surface for nearly a decade and a half, covering more than a marathon's worth of ground and finding conclusive evidence that the Red Planet hosted large bodies of liquid water in the ancient past. The golf-cart-size rover and its twin, Spirit, also helped bring Mars down to Earth, in the minds of scientists and laypeople alike.

Spirit and Opportunity "have made Mars a familiar place," Opportunity project manager John Callas, of JPL, told Space.com last year, a few months after the dust storm flared up. "When we say, 'our world,' we're no longer just talking about the Earth. We have to include parts of Mars as well."

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MASTERV (15), dr3n (10), marksyzm (5), Paracelsus (5), z0phi3l (5), HariSeldon (5), tamsnod27 (5), Flee (10), evolution (5)


9:55 pm 13/02/2019


90 day mission designed cheep and quick lasted 15 years. Now that is getting your money's worth. I asked one of the JPL Rover scientist at an JPL open house (couple years into the mission) why they didn't put a method of cleaning off some of the dust from the panels. He said because the project was only intended and expected to last 90 days so they couldn't justify the extra money required for the design, but had they known it was going to work so well they would have.

What I don't understand is, the design was solid, reliable and very cheep (compared to the Curiosity, 2020 rover and the 3 landers). Why didn't they mass produce another 20 of them with only slight modifications and send them to both Mars and the Moon. Instead they spent BILLIONS on design of an entirely new over priced rover Curiosity (which came in over budget and behind schedule) then mostly started a new custom build of the 2020 rover (also over priced and most likely behind schedule and over budget).

I have been following the rovers, landers and satellites exploring Mars for over 20 years now. It's very frustrating to watch a slow motion exploration of another planet knowing we could have done it faster, better, cheaper, and with far more interesting results than we have so far. That frustration doesn't even take into account the frustration of watching and reading about efforts to put humans on the planet. Other than the rocket advances of SpaceX and Blue Origin we have done virtually nothing to prepare the tech needed to build a habitat and support a habitat on the planet. We still plan on living in the dinky little lander that will deliver the astronaut to the surface.

Wish I could get the ear of a rich bastard that was interested in making some money because I have some sound ideas on what and where to build on mars

5:11 am 14/02/2019


Wow, now that is some great insight, thanks for sharing!

6:29 am 14/02/2019


Thanks MasterV... Yeah that seems to be the way of things, sadly. They don't get the budget they need for all the ideas and these people who make them are bound by too many rules, I imagine.

11:27 am 14/02/2019


Quote by marksyzm:
Thanks MasterV... Yeah that seems to be the way of things, sadly. They don't get the budget they need for all the ideas and these people who make them are bound by too many rules, I imagine.

and they and many others are bound my making more money by the "design[ing] of an entirely new over priced rover Curiosity"

2:13 pm 14/02/2019


@MASTERV Get a job at SpaceX! Private industry would have done what you recommend. Elon needs to find that perfect spot to start his Mars colony, and rovers, etc would do that. If they should be made smaller, or able to pack into a small space, so many could be launched in 1 rocket, and deploy a kind of hive of rovers, Im sure Elon would bite.

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