Opportunity, also known as MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover-B) or MER-1, and nicknamed Oppy, is a robotic rover that was active on Mars from 2004 to 2018. The rover is officially declared unresponsive and dead by NASA on 13th February 2019 after eight months of it being non-responsive to the commands sent.
Launched on July 7, 2003, as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover program, the rover successfully explored across 45 kilometres of the Meridiani Planum region of Mars for 15 years before it became silent since 10 June 2018, when a massive dust storm hit the skies of Mars, according to the last message sent by Opportunity Rover, restricting the sunlight to reach the panels of the rover resulting in the depletion of rover’s battery below the critical level. Because of low battery, the rover went in hibernation mode and has not wakened since then.
NASA’s Opportunity mission team was hopeful that they would be able to communicate with the rover once the storm passes and the sunlight hits the solar panels of the rover but, after trying for nearly a year to communicate with rover they were unsuccessful to establish a connection with the rover.
It is being said that because of the thick dust layer over the panels of the rover the sunlight is still blotted out making it impossible for Opportunity’s solar panels to stay powered, making the rover to be in a permanent hibernation mode because of its disturbed internal clock system.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the associate director for NASA’s science mission directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, said, “I’m standing here with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission Successful.”, marking the end of the mission and declaring the rover officially dead.