Kuiper listens closely for Opportunity to phone home.
Huge thanks to St. Louis Science Center @stlsciencecenter for allowing Kuiper to make a special visit & take pictures with their beautiful full-scale Mars Exploration Rover model. ?
On this day in 2004, Mars Exploration Rover B (“Opportunity”) landed on Mars. Oppie’s twin “Spirit” had landed 3 weeks earlier on the opposite side of the red planet. Both were designed for missions lasting only 90 Martian days (~92.5 Earth days.) Spirit’s mission ended up lasting over 6 years, and she put nearly 5 miles (~8 km) on her odometer (12x the originally planned route.)
Spirit sent us over 124k pictures and even made a surprise discovery while backing up with a stuck wheel. The wheel dug up white silica soil, which was huge news! According to Dr. Steve Squyres, principle investigator for the twin rovers, “It showed that there were once hot springs or steam vents at the Spirit site, which could have provided favorable conditions for microbial life.”
Opportunity has traveled even further; she has driven a total of 28 miles (45 km) and until recently was still chugging along. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard from her since June 10th; a giant dust storm blocked out the sun and made it impossible for Oppie to charge her batteries. We’re not sure why we haven’t heard back since the storm cleared up. It’s possible that her solar panels are still covered in dust, or that her batteries are simply too far gone.
15 years is a darn good run for a 90 day project by any measure. ? However, NASA JPL hasn’t given up just yet: Opportunity’s mission hasn’t officially ended. With any luck (and maybe some strategically placed wind), we’ll hear from our brave little rover yet.
Give us a call when you can, Oppy. We miss you. ♥️
Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BtDha7aj_B6/