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Is the mission over for the Mars Opportunity rover?

Is the mission over for the Mars Opportunity rover?

Opportunity's 15-year scientific mission is officially done, and so is the Martian rover.

The rover reached Mars in 2004, but NASA lost contact with the vehicle past year following an epic dust storm that enveloped the red planet and prevented sunlight from reaching its surface.

On Tuesday, engineers sent a transmission from a California-based antenna in a last ditch attempt to revive the rover, but heard nothing back, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Other landers found only patchy evidence of the past life of Mars, but Opportunity unlocked ancient lake beds and truly uncanny evidence for a wet and warm past on the Red Planet.

Trundling along at five centimetres per second (0.1 miles per hour), Opportunity covered 28 miles of Martian ground in its time, and took a peek at numerous Red Planet's impact craters.

Opportunity sent back 217,594 images from Mars, all of which were made available on the Internet. But with winter setting in at Opportunity's location, the team determined that the Martian nights were getting too cold for the electronics to survive.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's view of the Endurance Crater.

Since the storm, Nasa has tried to contact the machine through recovery commands 1,000 times.

"The goal is to discover life on another world: that is what we're trying to achieve", said Jim Bridenstine, Administrator of NASA. This will mark the end of a almost 15-year mission on Mars for the rover.

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"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our fearless astronauts walk on the surface of Mars", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, according to an announcement on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's website.

If this truly is the end, "Oppy", as the rover is affectionately known, has well outlasted her original 90-day mission. Global dust storms typically kick up every few years, and "we had gone a long time without one".

In that future age, will someone visit Opportunity's resting place?

Cornell University's Steve Squyres, lead scientist for both Opportunity and Spirit, considers succumbing to a ferocious storm an "honorable way" for the mission to end.

"You were, and are, the Opportunity of a lifetime", NASA tweeted Wednesday morning. By consistently actively pinging the rover during both preplanned recovery times and other random intervals, engineers had hoped to catch Opportunity during an awake period. "We were running around saying, "Water on Mars!" The reason for the loss of communication is due to a massive dust storm that blotted out the sky.

"I can not think of a more appropriate place for Opportunity to endure on the surface of Mars than one called Perseverance Valley", said Michael Watkins, director of JPL.

Opportunity has not been riled since last June when it was the victim of one of the most intense dust storms in decades. Zurbuchen thanked the hundreds of scientists and engineers for working for nearly two decades on the mission.

Now it is up to Curiosity and the InSight lander to carry on the legacy, Mr Callas said, along with spacecraft in orbit around Mars. Zurbuchen was present Tuesday night during a final planned attempt to reach the rover Tuesday evening, asking the rover to respond.