Nasa sends final farewell message as Mars rover is declared 'dead'

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The golf cart-size rovers were created to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning air bags in January 2004. The rover ends its mission with several unmatched feats. "I feel great about this", he said, stressing that both Spirit and Opportunity died honorable deaths after doing far more than was expected of them. These features form in water, a definitive sign to NASA that liquid water had been on the surface of Mars.

Meanwhile, the Curiosity rover, which was unaffected by the storm, and the stationary InSight lander continue to study the Red Planet and carry on missions of discovery that were founded by Opportunity and Spirit. "They were our eyes and ears, our remote robot bodies".

Communication with Opportunity was lost on June 10 previous year, when a planet-wide dust storm, one of the most intense in decades, hid its location. They've sent more than 835 recovery commands that remain unanswered. None had been answered. That was the last time the team had any communication with Opportunity. This map shows the southward path driven by Opportunity from late December 2014 until it passed marathon distance on March 24, 2015, during the 3,968th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars. "Our beloved Opportunity remains silent", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, during the conference. As of February 6, over 835 recovery command had been sent to the rover. It will also collect samples for a future sample-return mission NASA hopes to launch.

The announcement comes only days after Opportunity celebrated its 15th anniversary on Mars. He went on to say that scientists will be benefitting for years from the data taken during Opportunity's 14 years spent roving the Red planet. Both Opportunity and Spirit have helped NASA gain a better understanding of the formation and conditions of Mars. Without battery power, the rover was unable to keep its heaters running to protect its components from frigid temperatures during the night.

In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the rover travelled more than 28 miles by the time it reached its final resting spot on Mars - Perseverance Valley. Engineers had been attempting to communicate with it since August, when the skies had cleared enough.

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The most obvious candidate to rescue Opportunity is the Curiosity rover, Opportunity's bigger, nuclear-powered younger sibling.

Its final eerie photo was taken on 10 June as it became engulfed in the sand storm and its camera was shrouded in static.

"Spirit and Opportunity may be gone, but they leave us a legacy - and that's a legacy of a new paradigm for solar system exploration", Michael Watkins, the director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said Wednesday.

During its 15 years, the rover achieved a number of major feats, including setting a one-day Mars driving record in 2005 for travelling 220 metres, as well as discovering strong indications at Endeavour Crater of the action of ancient water similar to the drinkable water of a pond or lake on Earth.

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