On Wednesday, February 13, the world found answers to the troubling questions of a beloved Mars rover and said goodbye to NASA's longest surviving robot to exist on another planet, Opportunity. Also known as, "Oppy," this rover managed to perform and discover far beyond what it had been predicted. After having served his initial 90-day mission, Oppy decided to continue his expedition on Mars for as long as he could.
Over the years, Oppy became NASA engineers' main confidant, information source and connection on Mars. Surviving his twin rover, Spirit, Oppy's mission was fueled with tenacity, even though his expedition was set in small, determined movements. He may have been controlled by scientists to move safely and surely, but Oppy certainly produced results that were far beyond his mission.
Oppy went on to discover incredible findings that would further science back on his home planet. These discoveries helped scientists on Earth to understand everything from Mars' climate to its ability to sustain human life, and uncover unknown interplanetary entities. He also completed a marathon during his mission and even holds the record for most traveled off-world rover.
After a series of dust storms in 2018, Oppy began struggling to move forward on Mars. Following a massive Martian dust storm occurring in June, Oppy was left covered in debris and unable to garner a charge from its source of energy – the sun. Engineers have theorized that Oppy must have gone into hibernation mode following the incident in order to preserve his remaining battery power.
Oppy collected information, traveled another planet and gathered photographic evidence that has perplexed scientists for his entirety on Mars, but after eight months of nonresponsive silence from Oppy, NASA officially ended his mission. This marks a sad, but a historic moment in science as we remember the little rover that did.