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NASA/JPL/Cornell University, Maas Digital LLC [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsNASA’s now-silent Opportunity rover has now marked 15 years on Mars after landing on the planet on Jan. 24, 2004. The rover touched down in a region called Meridiani Planum and sent its first signal to Earth on Jan. 25, 2004 at 12:05 a.m. Eastern. The rover has been credited with many discoveries on the Red Planet.
As Opportunity begins its 16th year on the Martian surface, it’s in sleep mode, which it entered when a global storm caused its solar panels to be covered by dust in June 2018. NASA designed the golf-cart-sized rover to travel about 1,000 yards and survive on the planet for 90 Martian days, also known as “sols.” However, the now-silent Opportunity rover managed to greatly exceed the original expectations. In February 2018, the rover had traversed more than 28 miles in an astonishing 5,000 Martian days.
“Fifteen years on the surface of Mars is testament not only to a magnificent machine of exploration but the dedicated and talented team behind it that has allowed us to expand our discovery space of the Red Planet,” Opportunity Project Manager John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement. “However, this anniversary cannot help but be a little bittersweet as at present we don’t know the rover’s status. We are doing everything in our power to communicate with Opportunity, but as time goes on, the probability of a successful contact with the rover continues to diminish,” he added.
It has been a long time since Opportunity connected with Earth. The last signal received by NASA was on June 10, 2018. That’s when a global dust storm enveloped the planet, obscuring the rover’s location and coating its solar panels in dust. Those solar panels keep the rover charged so it

Article From: "Danica Simic"   Read full article