Topics: Mars, NASA, Opportunity, Planetary Exploration, Spaceflight
NASA's Opportunity Mars rover was built to operate for just 90 days, but kept going for 15 years. NASA officially declared it dead on Wednesday, and its last message to scientists before it went dark eight months ago is getting a lot of attention.
The rover spent a decade and a half sending data bursts, not words, but according to science reporter Jacob Margolis, scientists at NASA said the last message they received from Opportunity effectively translated to, "My battery is low and it's getting dark."
The solar-powered rover was, in the end, doomed by a ferocious dust storm.
Flight controllers tried numerous times to make contact, and sent one final series of recovery commands Tuesday night along with one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday's "I'll Be Seeing You," in a somber exercise that brought tears to team members' eyes. There was no response from space, only silence.
Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science missions, broke the news at what amounted to a funeral at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, announcing the demise of "our beloved Opportunity."
ABC Chicago, Associated Press