Opportunity lives on

Farewell, Oppy.

The longest-lived robot ever sent from Earth to the surface of another planet, Opportunity snapped pictures of a strange landscape and revealed surprising glimpses into the distant past of Mars for over 14 years. But on Wednesday, NASA announced that the rover is dead.

“It is therefore that I am standing here with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission is complete,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science.

The rover was designed to last only three months, but proved itself to be one of the solar system’s most unexpected endurance athletes. It traveled more than the distance of a marathon when its designers only expected it to move about half a mile. As it completed this course, Opportunity provided scientists a close-up view of Mars that they had never seen: finely layered rocks that preserved ripples of flowing water several billion years ago, a prerequisite for life.

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