Night Vision: Mars—Celebrating Opportunity
Posted February 13, 2019 - by Brandon Crowley
It looks like time is finally up for the toughest little
robot on Mars. NASA’s Opportunity rover has been out of communication since
June 10th of last year when Martian skies were darkened for months by a global dust
storm. Even though conditions have mostly cleared up, Opportunity has failed to
respond to repeated communication requests. It’s likely that the rover’s solar panels are completely coated in dust,
cutting off the craft’s only source of power.
While Opportunity’s end is a little sad, its mission has
been far from disappointing. Originally scheduled for a mission spanning just
90 Martian rotations (a bit over 92 Earth days), the rover continued operations
beyond that many times over. Last month marked the craft’s 15th year
on the red planet.
During its mission, Opportunity and its twin rover Spirit
(which was active until 2010) generated a wealth of data about Martian geology
and atmosphere, including significant evidence for large bodies of surface
water in Mars’ ancient past. Opportunity's journey may be over, but its legacy
will carry forward through the next generation of robots such as Curiosity and
InSight, as well as the future “Mars 2020” rover.
This week’s Night Vision is all about Mars. We’ll celebrate the valiant discoveries of
rovers past and look with anticipation at the discoveries yet to come.
Join us on Thursday, February 14th or Saturday, February 16th at 6:45 PM. Tickets are just $2.00 per person for the public, and free for members of Clark Planetarium. Get your tickets now.