NASA"s Mars exploration Rover Opportunity supplied its summary camera (Pancam) during the mission"s sols 1282 and 1284 (Sept. 2 and also Sept. 4, 2007) to take the images linked into this mosaic check out of the rover. The downward-looking watch omits the mast on which the camera is mounted. Picture released Feb. 17, 2012.(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell)
The opportunity rover worked on Mars indigenous January 2004 v June 2018, as soon as a monster dust storm silenced the golf-cart-size robot because that good.

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Originally intended to critical 90 days, the machine crawled more than the street of a marathon (26.2 miles, or 42.1 kilometers) during its lengthy and achieved life. At the time of the death, the rover"s odometer review 28.06 miles (45.16 km).

One the Opportunity"s greatest scientific findings to be confirming the presence of stand water on Mars for lengthy periods. The rover uncovered the existence of hematite,gypsumand other rocks top top Mars that often tend to form in water top top Earth, and additionally found evidence of old hydrothermal systems.

Opportunity likewise demonstrated the was possible to operate a rover for an ext than a decade on another planet, overcoming engineering and also driving issues as it ongoing to perform scientific work.

Opportunity fell silent as soon as a an international dust storm swept throughout Mars in June 2018. The rover needs solar power for operations, and also during hefty dust storms there too many particles in the waiting to enable sunlight to with Opportunity"s solar panels. NASA tried come rouse chance for months yet never obtained a response, and also the rover was finally asserted dead in February 2019.

Opportunity has produced an enormous scientific heritage that will assist with the occupational of NASA"s still-activeCuriosity rover and also the upcomingMars 2020rover.

Mission an overview and design

Opportunity and its pair rover, Spirit, were occurred as part of NASA"s Mars expedition program. NASA has actually sent many missions to the Red Planet since the 1960s, with some of the influential missions includingMariner 9(the very first orbiter),Viking 1andViking 2(the first landers) andSojourner/Pathfinder(the first rover). In the last 2 decades, NASA has focused on sending a Mars mission as frequently as possible, which way every 2 years at the time once Earth and also Mars come fairly close come each other in their orbits.

The major goals that the two rovers,according to NASA, were to determine whether life as we recognize it can ever have developed on Mars (focusing specifically on looking for old water) and also characterizing the climate and also geology that Mars. The information these rovers accumulated would be enhanced with observations from orbit — such together those accumulated by NASA"s long-runningMars enlightenment Orbiter— and also would educate future objectives to the Red Planet.

The Mars exploration Rovers obtained their names indigenous 9-year-oldSofi Collis, who wasthe winner that a naming challenge NASA held (with assistance from the Planetary culture and sponsorship indigenous toy maker Lego). Siberian-born Collis was adopted at period 2 and also moved to live with her brand-new family in Scottsdale, Arizona.

"I offered to live in one orphanage," Collis wrote in she winning essay. "It was dark and cold and lonely. In ~ night, i looked up in ~ the sparkly sky and also felt better. I dreamed I might fly there. In America, I deserve to make every my desires come true. Give thanks to you because that the "Spirit" and the "Opportunity.""

The Mars exploration Rovers introduced in 2003 — chance on July 7, and Spirit on June 10 — aboard Delta II rockets. They undertook a283-million-mile(455.4 million km) journey to hunt for water on Mars. The $800 million cost for the two rovers extended a suite of science instruments, including a panoramic camera, a microscope imager, design cameras, 3 spectrometers, a rock abrasion tool and also a magnet array. The rovers likewise had a small arm that enabled them to attain close-up pictures and data from interesting scientific targets.

Early occupational on Mars

NASA was intrigued through alayer the hematitethat the orbiting Mars an international Surveyor spotted indigenous above, situated on the Meridiani Planum at the Martian equator, and also decided that would be Opportunity"s landing site.Because hematite (an iron oxide) often develops in a an ar that had water, NASA to be curious around how the water obtained there in the first place and where the water went.

The 384-pound rover make its final approach to Mars on Jan. 25, 2004. That plowed v theMartian atmosphere, popped the end a parachute and also thenvaulted to the surface ar in a cocoon that airbags. Possibility rolled come a protect against inside a shallow crater simply 66 feet (20 meters) across, delighting researchers as the very first pictures beamed back from the Red Planet.

"We have actually scored a 300-million-mile interplanetary hole-in-one," Steve Squyres, a planetary scientist in ~ Cornell University and also the major investigator for the rover"s scientific research instruments, stated in anews releaseshortly ~ the landing.

In early March, just six weeks after landing, Opportunity determined a rock outcrop the showed evidence of a fluid past. The rocks at Guadalupe (a region on Mars) had actually sulfates,according to NASA, and also crystals that flourished inside of niches — both indications of water. Spirit discovered carbonates and hematite, an ext evidence the water, that same week. Opportunity also found hematite inside small spheres that NASA dubbed "blueberries" because of your size and shape. With one of its spectrometers, Opportunity found evidence that iron inside a group of blueberries when comparing it to the bare, underlying rock.

Before March to be over, opportunity discovered an ext evidence the water, this time from images of a absent outcrop the probably created from a deposit that saltwater in the ancient past. Chlorine and also bromine found in the rocks helped solidify the theory.

It was a optimistic start come Opportunity"s mission — and also the rover hadn"t also left the crater where it had landed. Before Opportunity"s 90-day major mission was over, the golf-cart-size rover had actually clambered out of Eagle Crater and ventured come its following science target about fifty percent a mile away: Endurance Crater. That spottedmore water indicators there in October2004.

Stuck in the sand

One of Opportunity"s many dangerous moments came in 2005, when the rover to be mired in the sand for 5 weeks. NASA had put the rover into a "blind drive" ~ above April 26, 2005, definition the rover was no checking because that obstacles as it went. Opportunity then plowed right into a 12-inch-high (30 centimeters) sand dune, where the six-wheeled rover initially had trouble gaining out.

To save the stranded rover, NASA ran test on a version of the rover in a simulated Martian "sandbox" in ~ the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Based upon what they learned in the sandbox, the rover chauffeurs then sent a collection of commands to Opportunity. It take it the rover around 629 feet (192 m) of wheel rotations before it to be able to move forward 3 feet (1 m), however it eventually pulled itself totally free in early June 2005,NASA said.

NASA made decision to move the rover front in more careful increments, i m sorry was particularly important because Opportunitylost the full use that its right-front wheel(because of a jammed steering motor) simply days prior to it acquired stuck in the sand. The rover can still move around just fine with its other three steerable wheels, NASA said.

Opportunity"s experience in the sand come in handy in October 2005, once NASA detected unexplained traction troubles on Martian solar day, or sol, 603. Just 16 feet into a planned 148-foot drive, a slip-check mechanism on board immediately stopped the rover as soon as it lost traction and also went past a programmed border for the variety of wheel turns, follow toNASA. 2 sols later, Opportunity controlled to ago itself out and kept on going.

Victoria Crater

In late September 2006, after 21 month on Mars, Opportunitywheeled up to Victoria Crater. The circled the rim for a couple of months, snapping pictures and also getting a near look in ~ layered rocks bordering the crater. NASA then made a gutsy decision in June 2007 come take opportunity inside the crater. It was a risk, together it to be unclear if the rover might climb the end again, yet NASA stated the science was precious it.

"The clinical allure is the chance to examine and investigate the compositions and also textures that exposed materials in the crater"s depth for clues about ancient, wet environments," NASA said in a news release. "As the rover travel farther under the slope, it will have the ability to examine significantly older rocks in the exposed wall surfaces of the crater."

The trek down was interrupted by asevere dust stormin July 2007. Opportunity"s power-generating capabilities reduce by 80 percent in only one week as its solar panels ended up being covered in dust. Late in the month, Opportunity"s strength dipped to crucial levels. NASA concerned the rover would avoid working, but Opportunity traction through.

It wasn"t till late August that the skies cleared sufficient for opportunity to resume work andhead into the crater. Possibility spent about a year wandering with Victoria Crater, getting up-close looks at the layers on the bottom, which researchers thought werelikely shaped by water.

Opportunity climbed out successfully in august 2008 and began a steady journey come Endeavour, a crater located13 miles (21 km) away. That might not it seems to be ~ far, but it took around three year to gain there, together the rover made number of stops to look at amazing science targets on the way. Opportunityreached the crater in respectable 2011. Through then, its pair rover, Spirit, had passed away in a sand trap. (It acquired stuck in march 2010, and also NASA declared the rover defunct in 2011 after the Martian winter passed and the company had heard nothing native the stranded rover.)

Exploring Endeavour and memory resets

Opportunity"s water background examinations ongoing at Endeavour, through one examplebeing a 2013 probe the a rock referred to as “Esperance.”The rock no only has actually clay minerals developed by water, yet there was sufficient of the fluid to "flush out ions set loosened by those reactions," Scott McLennan, a professor at the State college of new York and also a long-time planner because that Opportunity"s science team,said in ~ the time.

In 2014 and also early 2015, NASA made several attempts to reclaim Opportunity"s flash-memory capabilities ~ the rover skilled problems. Speed memory enables the rover to keep information even when it is powered off, such in the case of a poor storm. In 2015, NASA determined to proceed most operations with random-access memory instead, i beg your pardon keeps data only when the rover"s power is on. At the time, NASA stated the only adjust to operations would berequiring possibility to send high-priority data best awayrather 보다 storing the data for later on delivery.

Despite sometimes setbacks, Opportunityset an off-world driving document in July 2014when it effectively passed 25.01 mile (40.2 km), exceeding the distance from the Soviet Union"s remote-controlled lunar Lunokhod 2 rover in 1973. In march 2015, that passed another huge milestone: travelling a marathon street (26.2 miles, or 42.2 km) top top Mars.

From its see inside Endeavour, the roverlogged images of the comet Siding Springwhen the icy object sped by Mars at a distance of 87,000 miles (139,500 km) in October 2014. In January 2015, Opportunitytook pictures from a high allude on the in salt of Endeavour,about 440 feet (134 m) above the plain neighboring the crater. Then, in in march 2015, NASA announced that the rover — if overlooking an area nicknamed Marathon sink — had actually seen rocks through a composition unlike rather studied by spirit or Opportunity. Among the features of the rocks washigh concentration of aluminum and silicon.This composition was the very first time such rocks were found on Mars.

After working through a Martian winter, in march 2016,Opportunity tackled that is steepest steep ever— a tilt of 32 levels — if trying to reach a target on Knudsen Ridge, within the Marathon sink region. As engineers watched the rover"s wheels slip in the sand, they determined to give up the target and move on.

NASA announced that waswrapping increase operations in Marathon Valleyin June 2016, and included that opportunity recently got a close-up look at of "red-toned, crumbly material" on the southerly slope of the valley. Chance scuffed several of this product with a wheel, revealing few of the highest possible sulfur content watched on Mars. NASA stated the scuffed wheel had proof of magnesium sulfate, a substance that might have precipitation from water.

2018 dust storm

In late may 2018,a regional dust storm on Mars increased rapidly. The skies flourished dark over possibility as the storm got to planetary proportions top top June 20. Opportunity, which to be in good health in ~ the time and still functioning at Endeavour, critical talked to earth on June 10, till its solar panels could not pick up enough power for communications. The rover was meant to remain warm enough through the storm come survive, however scientists and also engineers questioned how conveniently the weathering rover can be recovered, if at all.

When storms take place on Mars, huge clouds the dust stop sunlight from getting to the surface. Greater levels the tau, a measure up of atmospheric opacity, suggest that less sunlight is available to Opportunity. The rover needs a tau of much less than 2.0 come recharge the batteries. Normally, tau at Opportunity"s website is about 0.5,NASA said. Possibility measured a tau that 10.8 ~ above June 10, 2018, the work it stopped transmitting earlier to Earth.

NASA ongoing listening for signals from opportunity for months through the Deep room Network — a network of antennas that communicate with silverlakestyle.comcraft everywhere the solar system. No signal was ever before received, and also Opportunity to be finally asserted dead in February 2019.

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for because 2012. As a proud Trekkie and also Canadian, she tackles topics favor silverlakestyle.comflight, diversity, scientific research fiction, astronomy and gaming to assist others explore the universe. Elizabeth"s on-site reporting includes two human being silverlakestyle.comflight launches indigenous Kazakhstan, and also embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. And M.Sc. In an are Studies from the university of phibìc Dakota, and also a Bachelor the Journalism native Canada"s Carleton University. Her recent book, NASA leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in an are after city hall the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still desires to it is in an astronaut someday.