NASA has announced the end of the life of the rovers explorer Opportunity on Mars (2/14). Rover ended his 14-year assignment on the red planet after losing contact with NASA since the dust storm on Mars in June 2018.
"I am announcing that the Opportunity mission is over," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of NASA's Science Missions Directorate, at a press conference at their headquarters in Pasadena, California.
Opportunity explorers are in charge of examining the history of water on Mars.
The end of the mobile operation is the end of the most useful mission in the history of space exploration.
After the dust storm, the opportunity can not recharge the battery. Thus, this vehicle has not responded to hundreds of messages from Earth in recent months. NASA tried to contact Opportunity for the last time Tuesday (12/2) in the evening.
The community of researchers and engineers participating in this program participated bleakly at the end of the mobile mission they dubbed Oppy.
"Spend the afternoon at JPL by sending the last contact for the Rover Opportunity on #March," said Tanya Harrison, director of Mars Research at Arizona State University. "There is only silence, tears and hugs, we share memory and laughter, # ThankYouOppy #GoodnightOppy, (Thanks Oppy, Good evening," he continued.
This nostalgia extends to researchers of all generations who have manipulated this explorer robot.
"Good luck (goodbye, good luck), Opportunity," said Keri Bean, who had the honor of sending the robot's latest message.
"The life of the Queen of Mars," added Mike Seibert, former director of Aviation Opportunity and rover pilot in other respects. While Frank Hartman, who commanded Oppy, told AFP that he felt very honored to have been part of the mission.
"Swallowed up in a big dust storm: is there a better end to this mission as perfect and brave as the Opportunity mission from start to finish?" he explained.
This mission has had various successes, it has exceeded 45.2 km. The mileage further away from the Moon rover chose the Soviet Union Lunokhod 2 in 1970. This distance is also farther from the rover than American astronauts took to the moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Opportunity sent 217 594 surface images of Mars that are now available. suspended on the internet.
Opportunity uses geological instruments to confirm that there was once water on Mars. In the second half of his life on Mars, Opportunity climbed the edge of Endeavor Crater and took panoramic shots at this location. In this region, he discovered "veins of gypsum", further evidence that water had flowed between these Martian rocks.
Spirit, Opportunity's twin brother, had landed three weeks earlier and was active until it expired in 2010.The life of the two rovers is well above that estimated by their builders. In theory, the price will only last 90 days.
At present, only one rover is still busy exploring Mars, Curiosity. This explorer landed in 2012, using the energy of the nuclear reactor as a driver, instead of being powered by solar panels.
In 2021, Rosalind Franklin's robot plans to land on this red planet. This robot is part of the Russian-European ExoMars mission. It will land on the other side of the planet, so there will be two rovers exploring the planet.