NASA announced Wednesday that the 15-year Opportunity rover mission has come to an end after the rover stopped communicating with Earth during its encounter with a major dust storm in June.
Opportunity's last communication with Earth was received on June 10, 2018. For the past eight months, NASA was attempting to recover the rover's communication to no avail.
The rover was designed to last 90 Martian days and travel just 1,100 yards, but the Opportunity far surpassed expectations, exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times. The rover's main objective was to gather information about the history of Mars' climates and to seek sites that may have once been favorable to life. Its findings at Meridiani Planum suggested the location may have been habitable at some point in the planet's history, Space.com reported.
"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said of the news. "And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration."
Barack Obama posted one of the rover's images on Instagram on Wednesday, writing, "Don't be sad it's over, be proud it taught us so much. Congrats to all the men and women of @NASA on a Mars rover mission that beat all expectations, inspired a new generation of Americans, and demands we keep investing in science that pushes the boundaries of human knowledge."
Opportunity achieved much in its long tenure on the Martian surface, including sending more than 217,000 images back to Earth, some of which can be seen in the slideshow above.
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