Mars Opportunity rover appears to be dead

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,858   +744
Staff member

It appears that NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity is dead. Mars scientist Dr. Tanya Harrison tweeted that the last commands sent to the rover were met with silence. NASA will be holding a press conference (below) at 2 pm EST to discuss what this means and answer questions.

If the reason for nonresponse is a power failure, Opportunity is doomed. Winter on Mars is approaching, and without functioning heaters, the rover’s components will not make it through the frigid conditions.

It is unclear what has happened to Opportunity, but it is likely that its solar panels are failing due to dust. Back in June 2018, it sent back a signal indicating that a dust storm was approaching. Its solar panels became obscured, and there was a concern with a draining power supply.

Operators gave it a command to respond once the storm cleared, but received no reply. The space administration has made several attempts to reestablish contact with no success. They fear that the dust storm has caused irreparable damage to the rover.

Opportunity’s mission was not a complete loss though. The rover first landed on Mars in 2004 and was only expected to send back information for 90 days. Fourteen years later it was still transmitting Martian data including some of the most spectacular photos of the Red Planet ever captured. It was also responsible for sending back evidence that proved oceans of water had once existed on Mars.

It is only one of four rovers that the United States has dispatched to the fourth planet from the sun. Of the other three robotic vehicles only one, Curiosity, is still functional. Two more rovers, ExoMars and Mars 2020, are almost ready to launch. NASA Also has the InSight lander, which is a stationary science station used to study Martian geology including earthquakes. So while Opportunity has now joined Sojourner and Spirit as Martian junk heaps, the exploration of Earth’s sister planet will continue.

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Posts: 3,320   +2,068
NASA and the scientific community certainly got their moneys worth with that little "90-day" rover that ended up lasting 14 years.

The JPL engineers who designed and built that should be patting themselves on the back over this hardware accomplishment.


Posts: 998   +886
The Martians or other visiting species took control over it. Proof that we're not alone?

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
All I can say is that if FORD and CHEVY learned to build such reliable vehicles I never would have bought a Honda ........ HINT!!!!!!

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,858   +744
Staff member
I had the live feed embedded, which normally gets turned into a recording, but apparently not this time. If you missed it, I replaced the feed with a recording from JPL's YouTube.