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Mars rover Opportunity goes silent, NASA ends mission after 15 years

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States announced on Thursday that it has ended the Opportunity Mars rover mission. The rover began exploring the surface of the planet 15 years ago. The space agency said Opportunity stopped communicating with Earth after June 10, when it faced a dust storm.

On Tuesday, NASA engineers attempted to contact the rover for the last time but to no avail. “We have made every reasonable engineering effort to try to recover Opportunity and have determined that the likelihood of receiving a signal is far too low to continue recovery efforts,” said John Callas, the manager of the Mars Exploration Rover project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Opportunity, which landed in the Meridiani Planum region of the Red Planet on January 24, 2004, was designed to last just 90 Martian days – 92 Earth days – and travel 1 km, NASA said. “Opportunity vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity,” the space agency added. “In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the rover traveled more than 28 miles [45 kilometers] by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on Mars – Perseverance Valley.”

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