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.

Published by

Recent Posts

GeekDad Daily Deal: Tagry Bluetooth True Wireless Earbuds

Keep the music going all day with Tagry Bluetooth True Wireless Earbuds!

January 22, 2022

GeekMom: Tabletop RPG Review: Questing With ‘Dungeons and Doggies’ From Streamforged Games

Many of us have gained new hobbies while we’ve been at home in the past…

January 22, 2022

Review: ‘Sword of Hyperborea’ # 1 — Hellboy’s Mighty Sword

The story of the Hyperborean blade carries a weight of its own.

January 22, 2022

GeekDad Daily Deal: Surfshark One

Make the smart choice with Surfshark One!

January 21, 2022

Re-Roll: This Week’s Tabletop Game News for the Week Ending January 21, 2022

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

January 21, 2022

GeekDad Review: Woolnut Leather Tech Organizer

Woolnut's Leather Tech Organizer is a minimalist case made of premium Scandinavian leather, with the…

January 21, 2022

This website uses cookies.