The longest-running Mars mission is officially over, NASA announced on Wednesday, putting an end to its desperate attempts to establish contact with the silent Opportunity robot.
NASA lost its connection to Opportunity in June 2018 as the solar-powered rover was swept over by a fierce dust storm. Scientists hoped its batteries could be charged again once the skies cleared, but the machine never seemed to come back to life. As the last attempt to get the rover’s message home failed on Tuesday, NASA finally made a heavy-hearted decision to move on.
Dubbed “the little rover that could,” Opportunity was praised for “15 years of ground-breaking discoveries and record-breaking achievements” in an improvised Twitter obituary by NASA.
The death of the lonely six-wheel robot pulled on many people’s heartstrings on social media. “We love. We remember. We grieve. Goodbye our assistant,” one user wrote on Twitter, while another one wondered “Why am I crying over a robot?”
People also shared images that Opportunity had sent from Mars. One user noted that the dark sky and dust specks in the picture reminded him of scenes from the animated movie, ‘WALL-E.’
Opportunity’s fate disturbed some users so much that they even proposed reviving the robot. “I want to see her wake up again. Because she will wake up again. We just can’t leave her up there,” someone wrote, while another user declared that he needs to “borrow a rocket” to “turn this little rover back on.”
Since its launch in 2003, the Opportunity rover managed to roam 28.06 miles (45.16km) on the Red Planet – an impressive record for a device that was originally meant to survive for just 90 days. During its 15-year stay on Mars, the rover examined soil and rock samples and took an array of panoramic images.
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