‘Opportunity’ was not another space rover that was sent to Mars. There was a deep bond between the machine and the scientists as it kept sending a lot of information about Mars overs the years.
The opportunity was originally created in order to be operated for 90 days. But miraculously it kept going for 15 years and last Wednesday NASA officially declared that it is dead. The last message Opportunity sent to earth eight months ago was ‘My battery is low and it’s getting dark’.
When the message was first noticed, scientists thoughts that machine is under some dust storm and they hoped that windy season would clear the dust off the solar panels. Since that day they have been sending several messages to Opportunity thinking that they could ping her again. But they didn’t receive any response and therefore, NASA has decided that solar-powered rover was doomed by a dust storm.
In one last attempt to give life to Opportunity, team members sent final series of recovery commands along with one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday’s ‘I’ll be seeing you’ and when even that didn’t work out, many were in almost tears.
Addressing an audience of hundreds of current and former team members that oversaw Opportunity and its long-deceased identical twin ‘Spirit’, project manager John Callas said that “This is a hard day. Even though it’s a machine and we are saying goodbye, it is still very hard and very poignant, but we had to do that. We came to that point”.
There were several songs tried by scientists to wake up the machine which includes ‘Wake me up before you go-go by Wham, ‘Here comes the sun by the Beatles, ‘Life on Mars by David Bowie and Telephone line by Electric light orchestra. They published their ‘Opportunity wake up’ playlist on Spotify and here is the link to the full playlist.
When Opportunity was hit by the dust storm, it was exploring Mars’ perseverance valley. The storm was so intense that it darkened the sky for months preventing sunlight from reaching the rover’s solar panels.
When the sky finally cleared, it was too late for the rover to wake up and Opportunity had to say goodbye to all of us.
Cover Image Credit: Spirit and Oppy