On Wednesday, the us space Agency NASA announced the official end of the mission, the Rover “opportunity”. Research robot stopped communicating back in June 2018, after the red planet was a global dust storm. This week on Tuesday evening, NASA experts made a final attempt to contact Mars Rover, but it was unsuccessful. Response from a research robot on Earth did not wait. Apparently, the solar panel “opportunity” was completely covered with dust, which prevents recharging his batteries. The Rover simply has no energy to work.
By the time of its landing on the Red planet in January 2004, “opportunity” was far not the first Rover landed on Mars (and definitely won’t be the last). But he was definitely the most resilient among all the others. As the Director of NASA Jim Breidenstein, from the moment of landing “the main task was to advance on the Martian surface at least 100 meters and to operate for 90 sols” (Martian days, which lasts about 40 minutes longer than earth’s). But in the end the machine worked almost 5111 Nightingale, and it’s almost 15 years! During this time, pushed by the Martian winds, which from time to time blew the dust deposited on the surface of its solar panels, the Rover covered a distance of over 40 kilometers of the Martian surface.
Whether or not the “opportunity” completely lost and NASA can’t get it to save, for example, with the aid of another Rover?
The most obvious candidate for the role of “rescuer”, of course, is the Rover’s “Kyuriositi” — the larger and more “young” colleague is using to power solar panels, and radioisotope thermoelectric generator, which means that he is not afraid of any Martian storm. Whether it was impossible to distract him from his work to send to a “colleague” and to see what actually happened, if possible, correct the problem?
The picture tracks of the NASA Rover “opportunity”, made at the endeavour crater in June 2017
Unfortunately, the first and main problem is the distance. According to the map of Mars created by NASA, “Curiosity” and “opportunity” are in 8400 kilometers from each other. Despite the fact that the suspension “Curiosity” is significantly more effective than “opportunity”, it is moving with a speed of 4 centimeters per second – it takes forever to get to colleagues in distress. Because of the complexity and diversity of Martian soil by the Rovers must be remotely controlled from the Ground. On average, Earth and Mars share the distance of 254 million kilometers, so an average two-way transmission of messages takes about 28 minutes and 12 seconds. In other words, to pass at least some meters, the car will take several days.
The second problem is that “Curiosity” is a research and not repair the Rover. Before the mission team would stand a colossal task to reconfigure the tools of the Rover so that he was able to clean solar panels “opportunity”. And even in this case, no one would be willing to guarantee the success of such adventurous operations. If something went wrong, NASA would risk losing two of the Rover.
Selfie of the Mars Rover “Curiosity”
Finally, the last problem is time. Even if by some miracle “Curiosity” would move across the surface of Mars with the agility and high-speed trains were able to reach the location of “opportunity”, approaching Martian winter will exacerbate any possible available now at the “opportunity” damages, and did not allow him enough to keep warm.
In General, the history of “opportunity” on this, unfortunately, ends. Who knows, maybe when Mars people will live, they will be able to find it and re-enable?