Mars Opportunity has not been heard from since June 10th, 2018, after a global dust storm swept across the Martian surface, most likely covering the solar panels with a layer of red dirt, too thick for NASA’s attempts to clear it away before Opportunity’s on-board batteries drained against the cold winter months.
Today, NASA has announced it will stop trying to reach Opportunity–a time to say goodbye.
One of my favorite images from Opportunity was the tracks lit left behind, leading back to the horizon. The things Opportunity saw…. Postcards wishing you were here.
Rover tracks disappear toward the horizon like the wake of a ship across the desolate sea of sand between the craters Endurance and Victoria on the Meridiani Plains. Opportunity took the image while stuck in the sand ripple dubbed Purgatory for over a month. This panorama (only partly shown here) was named Rub Al Khali after the “Empty Quarter” in the Arabian Desert. Image Number: WEB13648-2014 Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University
Fifteen years ago, Opportunity landed on Mars and was only anticipated to last ninety days. Congratulations to all the NASA engineers and staff, to all those who contributed the financials, to all of us on Earth who followed this journey.
So long for now Opportunity, we will see you when we get there. And one day, when all who visit and move to Mars, I am sure you will have a proper place in the Mars Space Museum among your peers told for and lost, who will have made our visit and stay possible.