Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Mars rover Martian mission ended after 15 years

  • Video report by ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke

The Mars rover Opportunity's mission is officially over, Nasa has confirmed.

Two rovers dropped on the red planet in 2004, expecting to carry out 90 days of data gathering. Spirit, the other rover, survived for six years before becoming stuck.

After 14 years of roaming around the dust and dirt of Mars, Opportunity became mired following a sandstorm on the planet and Nasa have been unable to make contact with it since June 2018.

Opportunity and Spirit took photos of Mars and have allowed scientists to be able to map out the planet over the years.

The two rovers found a water source on the planet, proving the previous theory that water was only present on Mars in polar ice caps was incorrect.

Opportunity travelled over 45 kilometres during its time on the planet and exploring numerous craters, while having to tackle tough weather conditions, from the freezing temperatures to sandstorms.

It was an extreme sandstorm which eventually brought to an end Opportunity's mission last year and despite plenty of attempts to revive the rover, scientists have finally accepted they cannot bring it back to life.

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a space scientist, told ITV News her favourite memories of Opportunity: "Personally, the fantastic pictures it has taken - images of the sun setting on Mars, amazing panoramic images which makes you feel you can touch it and step into Mars. I've always wanted to go to Mars and what Opportunity has done is give us the next best thing."

Numerous scientists have dedicated careers to the mission and will now need to adjust their focus as they will now look to send up a replacement.

"For the scientists working on this project, I think it will be a devastating time. As a scientist you spend so much of your life working on these projects and it's not just when it arrives at the surface of the planet...it's the planning and everything that goes into that so it could be 20, 30 years of someone's life and when that comes to an end, it is a time of remorse.

"One of the things the new rover needs to do is build on the discoveries Opportunity made - it made discoveries but left a lot of questions unanswered. So now the new rover will hopefully be asking those questions."