Eight months after last hearing from the Opportunity rover, NASA officials announced the end of the craft’s 15-year mission Wednesday, closing out an ambitious chapter of Mars exploration that proved the Red Planet once harbored running water and demonstrated the promise of mobile robotic scouts to survey other worlds.
NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover landed on Mars 15 years ago this week, but the long-lived robot remains out of action in the wake of a global dust storm last summer that caused it to lose power. Engineers are still trying to contact the spacecraft, sending commands and listening for any sort of response, but hopes are fading, a senior manager said Friday.
NASA’s robotic InSight spacecraft, carrying a pair of European-built science instruments, successfully landed Monday on a broad, flat equatorial Martian plain named Elysium Planitia. Touchdown was confirmed at 2:54 p.m. EST (1954 GMT) to begin a science mission focused on studying the deep interior of Mars.