During 14 years of intrepid exploration across Mars, it advanced human knowledge by confirming that water once flowed on the red planet – but NASA’s Opportunity rover has analysed its last soil sample.
The robot has been missing since the US space agency lost contact during a dust storm in June last year and was declared officially dead on Wednesday (Feb 13), ending one of the most fruitful missions in the history of space exploration.
Unable to recharge its batteries, Opportunity left hundreds of messages from Earth unanswered over the months, and NASA said it made its last attempt at contact on Tuesday evening.
“I declare the Opportunity mission as complete,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate told a news conference at mission headquarters in Pasadena, California.
The community of researchers and engineers involved in the programme were in mourning over the passing of the rover, known affectionately as Oppy.