The US space agency Nasa has officially declared the mission of the Mars rover Opportunity to be over. Previously, one last attempt to communicate with the robot failed. Opportunity has not been reached since a heavy dust storm eight months ago. The Rover has been exploring Mars since 2004.
NASA experts said they had not heard anything about the Rover despite their best efforts. The mission is therefore terminated. NASA had previously announced that it would once again send a series of signal orders to Opportunity. The engineers could not have imagined that "opportunity" would be in operation for such a long time, said mission leader John Callas. Even if it is a machine, it is "difficult to say goodbye".
On June 10, Opportunity had sent its most recent message. A dust storm covered the entire surface of the planet at this time. The Mars rover was powered by solar power, the storm probably did not have enough energy left to recharge the batteries.
The Rover was launched in July 2003 aboard a launcher from the Cape Canaveral spaceport. About half a year later, on January 25, 2004, the 185-kilogram, six-wheeled Rover landed on Mars. Originally, the mission would only take 90 days, which eventually became 15 years. During this time, the robot covered more than 45 kilometers. Among other things, Opportunity found evidence that there was once liquid water on Mars.
"It's about groundbreaking missions like Opportunity that one day our brave astronauts will be walking on the surface of Mars," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, "and when that day comes, part of the first footprint will be on the men and Opportunity women and a small rover who defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration. "
Together with Opportunity is also the identical second Rover Spirit on Mars, which could not be reached since 2010. In 2012 NASA sent as successor the Rover Curiosity, which is still in operation today. 2020 is to launch another Mars rover mission.