NASA's Mars rover pronounced dead: 'Farewell, Opportunity, and well done'

Opportunity's record-setting mission on Mars appears to have reached its end

Opportunity was created to operate for just 90 days on the martian surface but far outlived even the most ardent supporter's wildest expectations, roving 28 miles across the surface of Mars for more than 14 years.

Rolling along until communication ceased last June, it roamed a record 28.06 miles on Mars and worked longer than any other lander in the known universe.

Opportunity kept rolling along until last June, when a mammoth dust storm boiled up around the rover's digs on the rim of the 14-mile-wide (22 km) Endeavour Crater.

The rover has not been heard from since June previous year when the storm blanketed the Red Planet, blocking sunlight and causing solar-powered Oppy to go into hibernation. But both rovers far outlived their planned missions.

The experience inspired her to pursue a career at JPL; Fraeman is now a deputy project scientist on the Mars exploration rover project, and works with Opportunity nearly daily. Spirit died in 2010 when it got stuck in a sand trap and failed to charge its batteries.

The JPL team tried using NASA's Deep Space Network and radio telescopes on Earth to communicate with Opportunity, but so far, contact has been unsuccessful.

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While this will most likely be a tragic end for Oppy, the rover did complete its mission, with NASA in 2004 confirming it found a rock outcrop that showed parts of the planet were wet in the past.

Before the solar-powered duo touched down in January 2004, humanity had successfully dropped just four spacecraft on the Martian surface: the Soviet Union's stationary Mars 3 lander in 1971 (which ceased functioning just seconds after touchdown), NASA's similarly sessile Viking 1 and Viking 2 landers in 1976, and the USA space agency's Pathfinder mission in 1997.

When the sky finally cleared, Opportunity remained silent, its internal clock possibly so scrambled that it no longer knew when to sleep or wake up to receive commands.

The mars rover, named "Opportunity", was sent to explore the planet by the space team in 2004.

The rovers' greatest gift, according to Squyres, was providing a geologic record at two distinct places where water once flowed on Mars, and describing the conditions there that may have supported possible ancient life.

Three more landers - from the US, China and Europe - are due to launch next year.

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Opportunity had an initial goal of covering 700 yards (640 meters) and operating for just 90 days on the surface of Mars.

It ended up travelling more than 45 kilometres in its life.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine noted that while Opportunity stopped communicating around the same time be began his service with the administration, he was still in awe at the achievements the rover and its team were able to achieve throughout their mission.

Opportunity touched down on Mars on January 25, 2004.

NASA's InSight lander remains on Mars after touching down on November 26.

The rover's observations helped scientists build the case that Mars once hosted significant amounts of liquid water.

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And as a result of Chelsea losing 6-0 to City, the North London club are now fifth just one shy of the Champions League places. Alexandre Lacazette then swept home Ainsley Maitland-Niles' cross from close range before the interval to seal their win.

The rover sent back images of former water reserves, providing signs that ancient life could have once existed on Mars.

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