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."