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NASA's Opportunity rover mission on Mars 'bites the dust'

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The record-breaking 15-year-long mission of NASA's was declared over after the US space agency failed to contact the robotic explorer for over eight months.

The stopped communicating with Earth when a severe Mars-wide dust storm blanketed its location in June last year.

After more than a thousand commands to restore contact, engineers in the at (JPL) made their last attempt to revive Tuesday, to no avail.

The solar-powered rover's final communication was received June 10.

Designed to last just 90 Martian days and travel 1,000 metres, Opportunity vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity.

In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the travelled more than 45 kilometres by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on --

"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," said Thomas Zurbuchen, for

"Whatever loss we feel now must be tempered with the knowledge that the legacy of Opportunity continues -- both on the surface of with the Curiosity rover and lander -- and in the clean rooms of JPL, where the upcoming Mars 2020 rover is taking shape," said Zurbuchen.

The final transmission, sent via the 70-metre Mars Station antenna at NASA's Deep Space Complex in California, ended a multifaceted, eight-month recovery strategy in an attempt to compel the rover to communicate.

"We have made every reasonable engineering effort to try to recover Opportunity and have determined that the likelihood of receiving a signal is far too low to continue recovery efforts," said John Callas, (MER) project at JPL.

Opportunity landed in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars on January 24, 2004, seven months after its launch from in

Its twin rover, Spirit, landed 20 days earlier in the 166-kilometre-wide on the other side of Mars. Spirit logged almost eight kilometres before its mission wrapped up in May 2011.

Mars exploration continues unabated. NASA's lander, which touched down on November 26, is just beginning its scientific investigations.

The Curiosity rover has been exploring for more than six years.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover and the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover both will launch in July 2020, becoming the first rover missions designed to seek signs of past microbial life on the Red Planet.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 11:05 IST
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