The Mars Opportunity rover is officially dead, but not before sending some memorable last words back to scientists on earth.
The roving robot had been exploring the Red Planet for the last 15 years since landing on the surface of Mars in 2004. Eight months ago, it was swept up into a massive dust storm that blotted out the sun and shut down the solar-powered robot. When the storm cleared, NASA scientists operating the rover were not able to locate it and it could not turn on again.
As Vox noted, after several months of desperate attempts to make contact, scientists finally gave up this week and announced that the Mars Opportunity rover was officially dead.
“We have made every reasonable engineering effort to try to recover Opportunity and have determined that the likelihood of receiving a signal is far too low to continue recovery efforts,” John Callas, the manager of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover project, announced this week.
While the death of the rover is attracting memorials and posts sharing the amazing pictures it beamed back to earth, many others are sharing the final words that the rover conveyed to scientists as the dust storm moved in and its life as a picture-taking robot came to an end. The message was meant to alert scientists that its battery source was fading and there was no opportunity to recharge without the sun.
“My battery is low and it is getting dark,” the robot told NASA scientists.
The final words are getting some viral attention online, prompting writer Rob Sheridan to dub the Mars Opportunity rover an “emo robot.”
Others found the final words strangely sad, as the Mars Opportunity rover had gained widespread popularity in America for its long mission. It also spawned an entire side-industry of conspiracy theorists who thought they saw evidence of intelligent life, including a “face” on the surface of Mars that the rover eventually ran over with its giant treads. NASA scientists originally believed they might get a few months of service and explore a few hundred yards out of the robot, but Opportunity just kept going and ended up exploring 28 miles before being lost in the dust storm.
I’m sorry, I just found out the last message sent by the Mars rover was “my battery is low and it is getting dark,” so now I have to spend the rest of the day watching WALL-E and sobbing.— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) February 13, 2019
While the Mars Opportunity rover may be dead after 15 years of traveling on Mars, the pictures it beamed back will live on forever. Those who want to see the striking images of the Red Planet can check out NASA‘s library of images.