He traveled from Earth to Mars in 2004 to travel the surface of the planet for 90 days, but his mission was extended unexpectedly and Opportunity sent for 15 years his discoveries, such as the alleged presence of water, until today NASA finally gave for lost to the robot.
According to the scientists of the Space Agency, the device did not withstand a huge dust storm last summer, when communication with it was completely lost.
Last night, the last call sent from the space center was unanswered and found that it was time to end the extensive and unforeseen space mission, full of unprecedented feats.
The first, to establish a long stay on Mars that was completely unexpected for its own inventors, because the robot was initially designed to resist on the surface of Mars for three months, as recalled today NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine.
In addition to being durable, Opportunity’s work was prolific, as it provided scientists and the entire world with a close view of Mars that had never before been observed:
That of the reddish rocks arranged in layers after resisting the erosion of the water that supposedly flowed through Mars several billions of years ago; a fundamental requirement for the conditions that allow life to exist.
To give more indications that there was a time when Mars was a friendly place for living things, Opportunity also found gypsum veins of bright colors on rocks, such as those left by calcium, and minerals derived from clay.
Its six wheels traveled more than 45 kilometers on the surface of the neighboring planet, recording the record of the longest excursion in another star, said NASA.
“The objective was to be able to move along several kilometers along the surface of Mars and survive 90 days, and instead of that, we are here after more than 14 years,” Bridenstine stressed.
“It has been two decades of impressive work,” said the administrator of NASA, who also joked that after taking office “just one year ago” – appointed by the president, Donald Trump – has been responsible for such announcement , but that “as a politician you will find a way to blame someone”.
Opportunity’s excursion was not lonely, because a twin robot, the Spirit, accompanied him throughout a large part of the mission, but his journey ended in 2010 when he was trapped in a sand pit that made it difficult to charge his batteries.
It was precisely in a crater, called Endeavor, the place where the survivor Opportunity found the area of Mars with the conditions most prone to microbial life.
That crater has an approximate perimeter of 22 kilometers that the special device traveled, studied and communicated, allowing researchers to expand in more detail the “map” of Mars that is handled on planet Earth.
But during these 14 years, Opportunity had to face several challenges that required the resources and ideas of NASA engineers.
For example, the right front wheel of the robot sometimes consumed more current than the others, so specialists often guided the vehicle backwards to extend the useful life of the right front wheel and reduce the energy expenditure of the batteries.
One of the greatest moments of tension came on April 26, 2005, when barely a year after stepping on Mars Opportunity’s wheels were stuck in a ripple of sand sculpted by the wind and were stuck for several weeks.
The engineers rehearsed in a similar sandbox to be able to remove the team carefully from the Martian trap.
In addition to survivors, both Opportunity and Spirit were avid documentary makers who gave a human-scale view of what it was like to be on Mars, with 342,000 images in the rough and 31 panoramic color photographs.
Thus, beyond data and relevant information to continue with space research, the legacy of the robot also left impressive images of the beauty of the red planet.
It was a device that became “loved” by Internet users who during the most critical stages asked NASA about the “state of the bug”, its “possibility of recovery” and that today they even wish him on social networks “that Rest in peace. “(EFEUSA) .-