Mars Rover Opportunity’s Final Goodbye – Remembering Legend

Joshua Canning, Managing Editor

On February 13th, NASA had declared the Mars Rover Opportunity, or “Oppy”, dead after its final transmission from June 10th, 2018.  After getting caught in a sandstorm, Oppy was unable to recharge the solar-powered batteries, and fell silent.

In 2005, Oppy lost steering in one of its front wheels, posing one of the greatest challenges to traversing Mars’ unkempt surface.  More so, one of Oppy’s heater was stuck, threatening the rover’s limited power supply. Despite challenge on challenge, Opportunity persevered despite numerous odds; the loss of its 256 megabyte memory in late 2015, and the loss of Oppy’s other front wheel in 2017.  However, the 2018 dust storm proved to be unconquerable.

When the storm cleared, NASA scientists sent out some 830 rescue commands to awaken their robotic friend; to the world’s dismay, there was no reply.  In light of Opportunity’s final goodbye, scientific reporter Jacob Margolis translated Oppy’s final message as “My battery is low and it’s getting dark”, a bittersweet farewell to the Martian explorer.

Although we can grieve the loss of Opportunity, I think we should all come together and celebrate its achievements.  Not only had Oppy surpassed its expected life span of 90 days by some 15 years, but it had discovered undeniable evidence of liquid water’s existence on ancient Mars.  NASA’s Mars Exploration Program website boasts of Oppy’s additional feats, such as traveling 721 feet (220 meters) in a single day, as well as returning more than 217,000 images of the red planet, with 15 being 360-degree panoramas taken in color.

The Mars exploration continues on through NASA’s InSight lander and the Curiosity rover, which has been patrolling the Gale Crater for the past 6 years.  NASA also plans on sending out a new rover, Mars2020, which will launch in July, 2020.

These developments are exciting, as there has been a lack of an emphasis in recent years on space exploration. In order to be on the cutting edge of technology and science, we must relentlessly pursuit answers to our most profound questions regarding space and astronomy.

As future space expeditions loom ahead of us, let us not forget Opportunity’s extraordinary accomplishments.  Here’s to Oppy, a rover that’s inspired and warmed the hearts of millions. Sleep well little guy, sleep well.


(Oppy achievements/nasa future)

(830 rescue commands, margolis poem)