No, I'm not crying over a Mars rover, YOU'RE crying.
A planet-wide dust storm in summer of 2018 shut the Martian rover down due to its solar panels being blocked from debris, and the long duration spent without power apparently led to a series of failures which prevented a recovery. The last attempt was made on Tuesday night.
Ths colorized image of the Opportunity rover's shadow was taken on July 26, 2004, by the rover's front hazard-avoidance camera as it moved farther into Endurance Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars. In fact, Opportunity weathered a major dust storm in 2006 with no problem.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said: "For more than a decade, Opportunity has been an icon in the field of planetary exploration, teaching us about Mars' ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet, and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes".
According to Steve Squyres of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Opportunity "really changed the way scientists perceive Mars".
Though hard for those who worked on Opportunity - some for all 15 years or longer - the mission was declared a huge success.
Trundling along at five centimetres per second (0.1 miles per hour), Opportunity covered 28 miles of Martian ground in its time, and took a peek at numerous Red Planet's impact craters.
It's likely the press conference will announce the end of the mission, holding something akin to a funeral for the solar-powered rover.
When Spirit had faced a similar fate in the past, the winds on Mars had cleared the solar panels.
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For the last several months, scientists have regularly attempted to contact and revive the rover, but the failures suggest Opportunity's batteries are totally drained.
Opportunity was only supposed to stay on Mars for 90 days, but has now lasted an astounding 14 years.
The pair have had their share of incidents. And in the years before its demise, it had been forced to drive backward, when a wheel stopped working in 2006. Its twin rover, Spirit, had landed three weeks earlier on the other side of the planet.
Its goal was to search for clues about the history of water on Mars. "It was a world that was more Earthlike".
Standing in a packed auditorium at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, addressing the men and women who built and operated Opportunity, Zurbuchen said, "I have to tell you, it's an emotional time".
NASA has vowed to send people to Mars by 2030, but experts say it could take at least 25 years from now before humans could survive on the planet.
"A robotic geologist on Mars, and an integrated science and engineering operations team here on Earth, all set out together on a mission of discovery", Watkins said."They didn't know what they would find, they didn't know which direction they would go, sometimes from one day to the next, and they made it work". Like its counterparts, that rover will be fitted with various instruments.
Spirit ended its mission in 2010 after becoming stuck in soft soil.
Meanwhile, Curiosity, which landed in 2012, continues to roam the planet's surface.