Down to one rover on Mars :(

NASA has officially ended their attempts to make contact with the Opportunity rover on Mars. Launched 15 years ago on a 90-day mission to the red planet, Opportunity roved on until last summer when contact was lost amid a massive months-long planet-wide dust storm. It is suspected that either cold damage occurred due to a lack of heater power, or the solar panels became so caked with dust that the rover couldn’t function even after the storm passed.

With the loss of Opportunity, Curiosity is now our sole functioning rover, though the Mars 2020 rover is expected to launch in summer 2020, and touch down in February 2021. Curiosity and Mars 2020 are powered radioisotope thermoelectric generators rather than solar panels, so are not vulnerable to dust storms in the way Opportunity was (they do however have finite power sources).

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Opportunity reminds us of how bad early 2000s digital camera tech could be in this 2018 composite selfie

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