Nasa’s longest-running rover on Mars, Opportunity, has been pronounced dead, 15 years after it landed on the red planet.
The six-wheeled vehicle was built to operate for just three months but kept going and going until it was finally doomed by a ferocious dust storm eight months ago.
Flight controllers made numerous attempts to contact it and sent one final series of recovery commands on Tuesday night, accompanied by one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday’s I’ll Be Seeing You.
There was no response, only silence.
After 800+ attempts to contact @MarsRovers Opportunity, today we’re announcing the end of a successful Martian mission. Intended to explore the Red Planet for 90 days, Oppy outlived its mission lifetime by 14+ years. Join us live now: https://t.co/zJwTTpQNwp#ThanksOppypic.twitter.com/U4J26TfzDv
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) February 13, 2019
Remarkably agile until communication ended last June, Opportunity roamed a record 28 miles around Mars.
Opportunity and its long-dead twin rover, Spirit, found evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though – part of the robots’ programming involved spinning in tight circles to test nearby terrain and find new routes.