NASA rover finally bites the dust on Mars after 15 years

A heavy spacecraft would need rockets for braking and steering but could also be flown to steer itself through lift

A heavy spacecraft would need rockets for braking and steering but could also be flown to steer itself through lift

Meanwhile, the Curiosity rover, which was unaffected by the storm, and the stationary InSight lander, continue to study the Red Planet and carry on missions of discovery that were founded by Opportunity and Spirit.

NASA has vowed to send people to Mars by the 2030s, but industry experts say it could take longer - at least 25 years from now - before humans could survive on the Red Planet. After weeks of analyzing the images from Opportunity, NASA scientists determined that what looked like a jelly-filled pastry was actually just a plain old rock that had been kicked up and displaced by the rover's wheels.

Nasa wrote: 'The solar-powered rover last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm was blanketing the Red Planet'.

Also, this highlight reel from Opportunity's career quietly appeared online Tuesday with a description that includes an very bad lot of talk about the rover in the past tense. Flight controllers sent more than 1,000 recovery commands to Opportunity, all in vain.

Opportunity was the fifth of eight spacecraft to successfully land on Mars so far, all belonging to NASA.

Both outlived and outperformed expectations, on opposite sides of Mars. Besides endurance, the six-wheeled rover set a roaming record of 28 miles. The golf cart-size rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning air bags in January 2004.

The manager of the project, John Callas, described the decay of the machine as like "a loved one who's gone missing".

NASA shows the tool turret at the end of the the Opportunity rover's robotic arm on the southern side of "Marathon Valley", which goes through the western rim of Endeavour Crater on January 5, 2016.

The rover was as only created to survive for 90 days on the surfaceA of Mars but kept on trundling for 15 years.

"This is a celebration of so many achievements", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told team members gathered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for what amounted to a wake for the intrepid rover.

The lead scientist on the Opportunity project, Cornell University's Steve Squyres, believes the rover has had "an honourable death". The storm was so intense that it darkened the sky for months, preventing sunlight from reaching the rover's solar panels. It's especially frustrating, according to Callas, not knowing precisely why Opportunity-or Spirit-failed. "I heard this morning that we had not heard back", said Zurbuchen, explaining that the "beloved" rover remains silent. "Mars is now part of our neighborhood".

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