NASA’s Opportunity rover is silently celebrating its 15th anniversary on Mars.
The spacecraft was silenced by a storm in Mars and the last communication from the rover with Earth was received on June 10, 2018. The six wheeler about the size of a golf cart covered more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) on the red planet before falling silent. There was so much dust in the Mars atmosphere that sunlight could not reach Opportunity’s solar panels to generate power.
The project manager John Callas says the longer the blackout lasts, the less likely contact will be made. He calls Thursday’s anniversary bittersweet.
Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 24, 2004. It already had long outlived its design lifetime before contact was lost in a global dust storm.