NASA lost Wednesday the robot Opportunity that investigated the surface of Mars for 15 years and, among its most outstanding findings, discovered the first signs of water on the planet.
According to scientists from the American Space Agency, the device did not survive a huge dust storm last summer, when communication with it was completely lost.
"Therefore, I am standing here with a deep sense of gratitude and gratitude for declaring that Opportunity's mission is complete," said Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate science administrator at NASA, during a public lecture.
It ends a mission whose long duration was completely unexpected, because the robot was initially designed to resist on the surface of Mars for three months, as recalled by NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine.
"The objective was to be able to move along several kilometers along the surface of Mars and survive 90 days, and instead of that, we are here after more than 14 years," said Bridenstine, who has been in office since April 2018 , after being named by the president, Donald Trump.
"It has been two decades of impressive work," said Bridenstine, who also ironically said that after taking office just "a year ago" he is responsible for the announcement, but "as a politician you will find a way to blame someone "
Opportunity provided scientists with a close-up view of Mars that had never before been observed: rocks arranged in layers that resisted the erosion of water that supposedly flowed on Mars several billion years ago; a prerequisite for conditions that allow the possibility of life.
Because this device and its twin Spirit, which went out in 2010, continued much longer than expected, NASA has had a continuous robotic presence on Mars for more than 15 years.
But last night, the control center of the agency issued the last call to Opportunity and did not receive any response, which was considered as the final signal to end the extensive and unforeseen space mission. EFEUSA