NASA Opportunity last message: What were the final heartbreaking words of the Mars rover?

NASA has said goodbye to its Mars Opportunity rover nearly 16 years after the robotic explorer blasted from Earth towards Mars but what was the last message Opportunity beamed to NASA before it was lost to a Martian dust storm?

The car-sized Mars rover ceased all communications with Earth in June 2018, when a planet-wide storm engulfed Mars. Now after 15 incredible years of exploring the surface of the Red Planet, NASA has finally pulled the plug on the mission. The sad announcement came after NASA’s engineers have spent all available options to try and revive Opportunity. On Wednesday, February 13, the US space agency said Opportunity stood at the forefront of Mars and will be sorely missed.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars. And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration.

But the already gloomy news from NASA was made worse when the space agency revealed Opportunity’s last communique with Earth. As the Martian storm descended on the rover and the skies were choked of all sunlight, the solar-powered Opportunity messaged NASA saying, My battery is low and it’s getting dark.

News of Opportunity’s death sparked worldwide support and words of consolation for NASA and its engineers. Messages of support flooded social media as Opportunity’s heartbreaking last words were revealed to the public. 

Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss tweeted that A sad farewell to a wonderful explorer. Taught us a lot. Built for 90 days but survived 15 years alone on Mars. No humans could do that. And cost not a lot more than making a movie about sending Matt Damon to Mars. Yay rovers!

The NASA Opportunity rover took off from Earth on July 7, 2003, on an interstellar trip toward the infamous Red Planet. The robots rover was designed to explore the surface of Mars for 90 Martian days just a little over 90 Earth days and travel 3,609ft (1,100m). But the rover exceeded all expectations 60-times, lasting a groundbreaking 15 years on Mars.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate said, for more than a decade, Opportunity has been an icon in the field of planetary exploration, teaching us about Mars' ancient past like a wet, potentially habitable planet, and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes.

Whatever loss we feel now must be tempered with the knowledge that the legacy of Opportunity continues both on the surface of Mars with the Curiosity rover and InSight lander and in the clean rooms of JPL, where the upcoming Mars 2020 rover is taking shape.

Opportunity died in the western edge of Mars’ Perseverance Valley, a 14-miles-wide (22km) crater descending a Martian slope. 

Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Michael Watkins said I cannot think of a more appropriate place for Opportunity to endure on the surface of Mars than one called Perseverance Valley. The records, discoveries and sheer tenacity of this intrepid little rover is testament to the ingenuity, dedication, and perseverance of the people who built and guided her.

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