Mars rover Opportunity pronounced dead after 15 years of service

Sand dunes are seen on Mars in this image released by NASA

After months of attempting to wake up the Opportunity rover on Mars, NASA has finally closed the book on their nearly 15-year-long mission on Mars.

Opportunity remained sprightly up until eight months ago, when it was finally doomed by a vicious dust storm on Perseverance Valley.

U.S. space agency NASA will make one final attempt to contact its Opportunity Rover on Mars late Tuesday, eight months after it last made contact. Trundling along until communication ceased last June, Opportunity roamed a record 28 miles (45 kilometres) and worked longer than any other lander in the history of space exploration.

Opportunity, a remarkably durable NASA rover created to roll along the surface of Mars for three months, has stopped communicating with Earth after 15 years of service, officials said on Wednesday, ending a mission that astounded the USA space agency.

NASA made its last planned attempts to communicate with Opportunity late on Tuesday, but did not receive any response back.

The rover's greatest gift, according to Professor Squyres, was providing a geologic record at two distinct places where water once flowed on Mars, and describing the conditions there that may have supported possible ancient life.

Some in the Martian exploration community criticized NASA for its plan to rouse the rover.

"A robotic geologist on Mars, and an integrated science and engineering operations team here on Earth, all set out together on a mission of discovery", Watkins said."They didn't know what they would find, they didn't know which direction they would go, sometimes from one day to the next, and they made it work".

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A six-wheeled robot which has sent signals to Earth from Mars since 2004 has been declared "dead" by NASA after it stopped responding.

Nasa's Opportunity rover was created to last only three months. It's definitely a sad day, but it's hard to be upset when you consider the incredible job Opportunity did during its lengthy Mars adventure, and NASA is more than pleased with everything it accomplished during its time on the Red Planet. But they shared a main mission goal: to hunt for signs of long-ago liquid-water activity, thereby helping scientists better understand Mars' evolution and past potential to host life.

NASA is planning a new rover mission to Mars that is expected to launch in 2020 to search for evidence of past life on the Red Planet.

Project manager John Callas said: 'It's just like a loved one who's gone missing, and you keep holding out hope that they will show up and that they're healthy.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who broke the news to team members gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that although some people were "a little choked up", the general mood was one of celebration. And run is an apt term, for Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, were the first truly mobile Mars explorers.

Opportunity landed on Mars on January 25, 2004, bouncing across the surface in an inflatable airbag.

"[Opportunity] has given us a larger world", Dr Callas said.

Created to last just 90 Martian days and travel 3,300 feet, Opportunity vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity.

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