Opportunity, one of the oldest robots on Mars, has been officially declared “dead”. Yesterday NASA announced that the Opportunity mission has officially ended, after many attempts to contact the robot have failed.
The Opportunity robot disappeared on June 10, 2018, when a sandstorm covered the robot’s photovoltaic panels, and the robot ran out of power.
Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004, with the purpose of collecting data about Mars for 90 days. The mission was expanded after the robot managed to continue operating, thus exploring a bigger Mars surface than initially planned. In the last 15 years Opportunity explored many areas on Mars, especially craters, each of them being basically a whole new mission.
With power limited electric engines and exclusively relying on solar power, using 20 years old technology, Opportunity traveled around 45 km’s on Mars in the last 15 years and lead to new discoveries about the planet. There are other robots on Mars that are still active such as Curiosity and InSight, who landed on Mars last year. Spirit, another robot that arrives on Mars one year before Opportunity was also declared “dead” in 2010 after seven years, when NASA noticed that the connection with the robot has been severed.
Robots that are currently on Mars are helping us learn new details about the history of mars and helps NASA to better prepare for possible human expeditions on Mars. There are however chances for the first people on Mars to not be sent by NASA but by a private company such as SpaceX as Elon Musk often talks about the possibility of colonizing the red planet.