NASA launched its Opportunity rover on July 7, 2003 as a part of its Mars Exploration Rover (MER) program. The rover landed on Mars on January 25, 2004.
Opportunity was designed to last on Mars for about 90 days. However, it continued functioning for more than 14 years (14 years and 294 days to be exact) which is 55 times its designed lifespan.
Opportunity revolutionized our understanding of the red planet teaching us about Mars’ ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet and revealing some beautiful Martian landscapes.
Last year on June 12, 2018, Opportunity entered hibernation as a violent dust storm engulfed the surface of the red planet. It was hoped it would reboot once the storm settled. But unfortunately, even after several attempts made by NASA to re-establish communication with the rover, it failed to respond.
On 13 February 2019, NASA made its last attempt to contact Opportunity hoping for a response but Opportunity did not show any sings of activity. NASA held a media briefing on 13 February at 11 a.m. PST where they announced the mission as ‘complete’ meaning they wouldn’t make any more attempts to contact Opportunity.
It is a matter of pride that Opportunity spent 15 years on Mars exploring the planet. As we bid farewell to one of our favorite Martian rovers, here are some of the pictures of Mars taken by Opportunity during its lifespan. (Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ)
We miss you, Oppy!