R.I.P. Opportunity

I woke up yesterday to the news that NASA had officially declared Opportunity to be dead, which has made me sadder than I expected. I was working in the aerospace industry when Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars back in 2004, and I remember it being a very exciting time at work.

(I did not work on Mars-related stuff at the time, but it was all anyone wanted to talk about. You couldn’t get three feet around the office without the rovers coming up in one form or another.)

And, to be honest, I hadn’t thought about the rovers in years. Spirit was declared dead a long time ago, and then Curiosity was launched, and Opportunity slipped my mind.

For a rover meant to last 3 months, the fact that it lasted almost 15 years is pretty dang amazing. And NASA did such a good job of getting us all to care about some little (I say little facetiously–neither Spirit or Opportunity is that small, and Curiosity is freaking huge) robots exploring on another planet.

But I will admit I cried a little, when I learned that Opportunity’s last message was “My batteries are low and it is getting dark.” (And it makes me feel better to know I wasn’t the only one.)

I know it’s just a machine, but Godspeed, Opportunity. Thanks for all your hard work.

It seems to me you lived your life
like a rover in the wind
never fading with the sunset
when the dust set in.

Your tracks will always fall here,
among Mars’ reddest hills;
your candle’s burned out long before
your science ever will.#ThanksOppy. I owe you so much. pic.twitter.com/x0i5WqA9sL— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) February 13, 2019

One response to this post.

  1. My social media has been blowing up with this story more than many recent celebrity deaths. A robot representing the cutting edge of human science as a celebrity? I can get down with that.

    Reply

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