February 3, 2023

15 years of Opportunity rover on Mars

On January 24, 2004, the Opportunity rover landed on Mars. The next day he sent the first message to Earth. Its mission according to NASA’s plans was supposed to take 90 days, meanwhile, the 15th anniversary has already passed. However, there is no contact with Opportunity. It sent its last signal on June 10 last year.

The Opportunity rover landed on the Red Planet on the night of January 24, 2004. A few weeks earlier a twin craft – Spirit rover, landed in a different part of Mars. The proper name of the roverów to Mars Exploration Rover, w skróMER. Spirit, as the first to launch was designated MER-A, and Opportunity MER-B.

Both solar-powered rovers have begun three-month missions, whichóhe goal was to learn more about the geological and climatic history of Mars and to look for a trace of theóin water and life. Both roamed the Red Planet and collected a mass of priceless data, whichóre significantly expanded our knowledge of the neighboring planet.

– 15 years on the surface of Mars is a testament not only to a wonderfully engineered machine, but also to a dedicated and talented team thatóry allowed us to expand our knowledge of the Red Planet – said John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in charge of the Opportunity rover. – However, this anniversary is a bit bittersweet, as we currently do not know the status of the rover. We are doing our best to communicate with Opportunity, but as time goes by, the likelihood of successful contact wanes – added.

Spirit went quiet in March 2010. After burrowing into deep sand, the rover lost the orientation ability needed to correctly position the solar panels. Unfortunately, Opportunity móheads to meet a similar fate. The last contact with the rover was on June 10 last year. It swept across Mars inót that time a huge dust storm, whichóre its size covered the entire planet.

The storm limited the sunlight reaching the Martian surface, preventing the rover from recharging its batteries. Already old by rover standardsów, Opportunity went into sleep mode due to lack of energy. After a few months, the storm subsided, and the teamół from NASA has started the procedure for awakening the rover. However, without any effectów. Engineers still hoped that, in time, gusts of wind would clear the solar panels and the machine would be able to resume operation. However, so far the rover has not sent a sign of life.

But hope dies last. NASA specialists continue to send the rover commands and also listen for signalsóin return. The Curiosity rover is still active on Mars. It is powered by nuclear energy, so no storms are terrible to it.