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NASA said the Mars rover Opportunity died and it’s last words were “my battery is low and it’s getting dark” ;^; I pay my respects to the robot that turned 90 days into 15 years of exploration. To Opportunity. Rest well and in peace, rover. Your mission is complete. #thanksoppy #restinpeaceopportunity
Probably the biggest heartbreak this love month doesn’t come from a breakup. It’s the death of the Mars rover, Opportunity, which caused an outpouring of feelings worldwide ranging from gratitude to sadness.
Opportunity was the longest-living rover sent to space. It explored Mars for almost 15 years and has shown us what the planet looks like. A day before Valentine’s Day in the US, NASA announced that engineers in the Space Flight Operations Facility at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) made their last attempt at reviving Opportunity. Its last transmission to Earth was at June 2018 (or even before that) after a Mars-wide dust storm hit its location. KPCC’s science reporter Jacob Margolis said that its last message was the digital equivalent of “My battery is low, it’s getting dark.”
The last message they received was basically, “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.” They hoped that the windy season would clear dust off the solar panels (if that was the problem). Since then they've been pinging her again and again, every way they knew… 3/
— Jacob Margolis (@JacobMargolis) February 12, 2019
Man, it’s like a Nicholas Sparks movie in space. I didn’t expect to feel sad about a robot.
Likewise, NASA engineers and regular netizens posted their eulogies for the rover. My personal favorite is the former’s Twitter Moments compilation with the tagline: “Today, we’re expressing gratitude for the opportunity to rove on Mars as we mark the completion of a successful mission that exceeded our expectations.” The agency also noted that Opportunity was only supposed to go on a 90-day mission, but lasted for almost 15 years.
#ThanksOppy for being the little rover that could! A planned 90-day mission to explore Mars turned into 15 years of ground-breaking discoveries and record-breaking achievements. Here's a look: https://t.co/e32XC64e3C
— NASA (@NASA) February 14, 2019
Humanity’s greatest explorers aren’t always human.
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) February 13, 2019
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 13, 2019
I’m sorry, I just found out the last message sent by the Mars rover was “my battery is low and it is getting dark,” so now I have to spend the rest of the day watching WALL-E and sobbing.
— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) February 13, 2019
Through the #ThanksOppy hashtag, artists sent pieces to pay tribute to the late rover.
it's surreal, Opportunity was exploring for more than half of my life, after that long you don't really expect to hear the news that the story is over. no I'm not crying, you're crying. #ThanksOppy pic.twitter.com/Ipk4f0iOq6
— 🍄 shroomy in the sky with diamonds 🍄 (@Shroompunk) February 14, 2019
Hey little buddy. You were quite the star several years ago. I feel honoured meeting you in person. We have some plans, I‘m sure you‘re gonna like it.#ThanksOppy #ThankYouOppy #Oppy #OpportunityRover pic.twitter.com/Sk4oSbOEOv
— Hanyuu / Jenn 👽💮 (@CaptainHanyuu) February 14, 2019
— Liz Climo (@elclimo) February 14, 2019
If you’re wondering why people are so invested, it basically showed us Mars in a different perspective. It’s not just “the red planet” that we learned in science anymore. Opportunity’s photos showed sceneries straight out of Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as elements like “blueberries” (spheres made from gray hermatite, a type of iron oxide mineral) and a colorful rock made from manganese oxide.
Oppy proved beyond a doubt that ancient Mars had lots of liquid water. These hematite spheres, nicknamed "blueberries," formed in the presence of H2O. https://t.co/2kz6YLjRer#ThanksOppy pic.twitter.com/L9yS0a7k1X
— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) February 13, 2019
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement that Opportunity taught us “about Mars’ ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet, and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes.”
You can also watch a quick rundown of its journey in this video posted by the JPL:
We may be spending the love month in different ways—many like it, many don’t—but what’s fascinating is that, at this moment in time, people actually joined together to mourn Opportunity. It makes sense, it was a hardworking robot after all. [Sobs]
Photo courtesy of @_lance_mcmeme_’s Instagram account
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