Opportunity Mars Rover Current Affairs - 2019
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its Mars Mission, Opportunity has come to an end. This marked the conclusion of the 15-year saga. The decision to end the mission was made after all the efforts to restore contact with the Opportunity Mars rover didn’t yield desired results.
Why the NASA lost the contact with Opportunity?
A historic global dust storm reached the location of the Opportunity rover on Mars. The storm darkened the skies and cut off of the rover’s solar power. All the efforts of NASA to restore the rover did not yield positive results.
Things worsened with the onset of the winter at the location of the Opportunity rover. The reduced sunlight and colder temperatures during winter made it unlikely for the recovery of the Opportunity rover.
About the Mission
Opportunity was the second of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers to land on Mars in January 2004. Opportunity landed 90 days after its twin rover Spirit landed. Spirit landed at Gusev Crater and Opportunity landed on the opposite side of Mars at Meridiani Planum.
NASA expected 90-day lifetimes for the rovers. Both Opportunity and Spirit far exceeded their expected lifetime. Spirit’s mission ended in May 2011 after travelling eight kilometres and Opportunity had logged 45 kilometres before losing contact in June 2018.
NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity has found rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater that might have been a lake of liquid water. The scientists believe that the rocks were either transported by a flood or eroded in place by the wind.
NASA’s Opportunity rover has been investigating on and near the western rim of Endeavour Crater since 2011. The Endeavour Crater is about 22 km across.
Opportunity has found out a pattern of striations running east-west outside the crest of the rim. The features have been observed just outside the crater rim’s crest above “Perseverance Valley”.
To ascertain whether the rocks are present in-place or got transported, scientists plan to drive Opportunity down Perseverance Valley. The Perseverance valley extends for a distance of about two football fields. It slopes down from the crest into the Endeavour crater.
The scientists are looking into several hypotheses for the perched lake. As per one hypothesis, one of the possibility is that a flood might have brought in the rocks and carved out the Perseverance valley. Another believes that the area was fractured by the impact that created Endeavour Crater.
Mars has a rich variety of geological features: huge craters, broad plains, tall mountains, deep canyons, and much more. NASA’s Opportunity, also known as MER-B is a robotic rover investigating the Martian surface since 2004. It was launched in 2003 as a part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover program. The rover landed on the Martian surface in 2004.