NASA to speak today on the fate of Mars Opportunity Rover

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Other landers found only patchy evidence of the past life of Mars, but Opportunity unlocked ancient lake beds and truly uncanny evidence for a wet and warm past on the Red Planet.

As the thick dust whipped up and around the rover - and across the entirety of Mars - the sunlight that powers it was blocked and its batteries ran out. They've sent more than 835 recovery commands that remain unanswered.

Opportunity explored Meridiani Planum near Mars's equator and meridian.

It had already lost its identical twin, Spirit, which was pronounced dead in 2011, a year after it got stuck in sand and communication ceased.

The six-wheeled vehicle that helped gather critical evidence that ancient Mars might have been hospitable to life was remarkably spry up until eight months ago, when it was finally doomed by a ferocious dust storm.

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Created to last only three months, and travel only 1000 metres, Opportunity provided scientists a close-up view of Mars that they had never seen.

It's no easier saying goodbye now to Opportunity, than it was to Spirit, project manager John Callas told The Associated Press.

Scientist Abigail Fraeman was 16 years old when she first witnessed a rover landing on Mars. It's the generation of young scientists and engineers who became space explorers with this mission.

"It gives you an idea just how long this mission has lasted", she said.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's view of the Endurance Crater. "Everything we do and think about in our planetary neighborhood with Mars and elsewhere relates to the research that came from that, and the engineering breakthroughs that came from that".

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"This was a historic dust storm and we needed a historic dust storm to finish this historic mission", said Fraeman. Front and center is a flight spare of Sojourner, left is a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, right is test rover Curiosity. It was announced on February 13, 2019, that the remaining Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, had fallen silent and that efforts to continue to try and reestablish communications with the rover have ended.

You may be interested to know that Opportunity was powered by VxWorks on a 20MHz IBM RAD6000 CPU - a RISC Single Chip based on Big Blue's POWER1 architecture - with 128MB of RAM, 256MB of flash memory, and 3MB of EEPROM storage.

In one of the first images sent to Earth by Opportunity shows the Martian surface. Opportunity spent several days at the summit making pictures that engineers will stitch into a color panorama. This, in turn, has fueled what we look for on Mars- which is to say, water and clues to if life could ever have arisen on Mars. The agency said it had ended its efforts to communicate with Opportunity after sending more than 1,000 radio signals its way, including some just last night.

By September 11, the atmosphere above the rover's location had cleared enough for adequate sunlight to reach the rover's panels, provided they were relatively free of dust. Now it's getting colder and darker at Mars, further dimming prospects.

Nasa believes the device's lengthy outing will have scrambled its clock, which will have drained the rover's batteries.

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