Space & Astronomy

Breaking Atmo: Good Night, Opportunity — February 2019

On February 13, 2019, NASA officially ended the Mars Exploration Rovers Mission at a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California. The rovers Spirit and Opportunity touched down on Mars in January 2004, combined they covered almost 33 miles of Martian ground, took 342,432 photographs, and greatly added to our knowledge of Mars.

Related Post
Early MER Mission Patches, Source is likely NASA / JPL-Caltech, but I’ve had this image for years.

Both rovers, but especially Opportunity, provided significant evidence that Mars was very likely warm and wet at points in its history. The “blueberries” found early in the mission were determined to be hematite that formed in acidic groundwater. Later in the mission, and miles away from the landing site at Endurance Crater, clay minerals were found. These minerals would have required water with a pH near 7 (neutral). Not too shabby at all for rovers with an original 90 Martian day (Sol) mission with a goal of driving 3300 feet (about a kilometer).

MER mission info-graphic

Opportunity lasted for nearly 60 times the length of the original planned mission and drove nearly 45 times as far as originally planned. It overcame a number of mobility and computer hurdles and earned its reputation as the plucky little rover that could. We learned just as much about how to build and program rovers from Spirit and Opportunity as we did about Mars. Check out some of the awesome stuff NASA has on their website about Opportunity. I think my favorite tribute so far has been the alt text on Randall Munroe’s XKCD: “Thanks for bringing us along.” Thank you, Opportunity, your twin Spirit, and all who worked with you for all the pictures, science, and excitement.

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!

This post was last modified on February 14, 2019 1:41 pm

Michael J.

Michael is an engineer who likes to build with LEGO bricks and fly model rockets, when not chasing his two boys around, or more when helping to wrangle Cub Scouts.

View Comments

  • Hiya. Really good posting. I must state I discovered
    something very useful for myself. I hope it's more.
    Thanks a lot.

Published by

Recent Posts

Re-Roll: This Week’s Tabletop Game News for the Week Ending June 25, 2021

The board game (and board game-related!) news that caught our attention for the week ending…

June 25, 2021

All Are Welcome in Carrie Ferguson’s Grumpytime Club

Musician Carrie Ferguson timed the release of her new album, 'The Grumpytime Club,' to coincide with…

June 25, 2021

The New Graphic Novel ‘The Flutist of Arnhem’ Tells the Story of a Bridge Too Far

The story of Operation Market Garden during World War II and the attempt by British…

June 25, 2021

Kickstarter Alert: Go Places, Catch Ghosts, and Learn History With ‘Soul Catchers’ [#ad]

In the new app game 'Soul Catchers,' players get to travel to important places, capture…

June 25, 2021

Convention Connection for Friday, June 25th 2021

Check out a convention near you this last weekend in June, including Albuquerque Comic Con,…

June 25, 2021

What a Rush! — GeekDad Reviews ‘Mario Golf: Super Rush’ for Nintendo Switch

While not a simple retread of Camelot's early-aughts classics, 'Mario Golf: Super Rush' is clearly…

June 24, 2021

This website uses cookies.