Nasa prepares to announce the death of the Opportunity Mars Rover

Science										
		
																	This dune-covered volcanic rock bed is one of the coolest places on Mars					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner

Flight controllers made numerous attempts to contact it and sent one final series of recovery commands Tuesday night, accompanied by one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday's "I'll Be Seeing You".

It looks like Mars rover Opportunity has finally reached its end after 15 years on the red planet. Inspired, Fraeman went on to become a planetary scientist, joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and ended up deputy project scientist for Opportunity. NASA will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. ET today to discuss the results of recovery efforts since a dust storm encircled Mars a year ago.

"And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration".

"It gives you an idea just how long this mission has lasted", she said.

Now that Opportunity has died, she says, her days will be different.

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.

Global dust storms typically kick up every few years, and "we had gone a long time without one", Mr Callas said.

Despite NASA engineers' best efforts to get a response via radio channels, its last communication was on June 10, 2018.

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Unlike NASA's nuclear-powered Curiosity rover, which is still chugging along on Mars, Opportunity and Spirit were never created to endure such severe weather.

The team was hoping that the windy season on Mars would help clear off Opportunity's solar panels, allowing it to power up again. Now it's getting colder and darker at Mars, further dimming prospects.

Opportunity and its long-dead twin rover, Spirit, found evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life.

Since September, the team at NASA has been using a "sweep and beep" process to try to contact the robot, which involves sending commands to the rover, and waiting to hear a beep back. It's especially frustrating, according to Callas, not knowing precisely why Opportunity-or Spirit-failed.

In November 2018 NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet.

As for Opportunity: "It has given us a larger world", Dr Callas said.

"Mars is now part of our neighbourhood", he added.

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