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Opportunity landed on Mars

January 25, 2004 NASA’s second twin Mars rover, Opportunity It landed on the red planet. Its counterpart, the Mars rover spirithad entered the planet only three weeks earlier.

Opportunity and durability on the planet

NASA had planned this mission for only 90 Martian days. Because the research team did not think that Opportunity and Spirit would be able to survive their first winter on Mars; A season that lasts twice as long as winter on Earth.

Both rovers landed in the planet’s southern hemisphere, which receives little sunlight. Therefore, charging two devices with the help of solar panels seemed impossible.

However, NASA managed to find a way to rotate its rovers to the north, which in the winter would benefit from sunlight to some extent. Finally, it was during 2009 that the Spirit rover was trapped in quicksand and could not turn towards the sunlight in its fourth winter.

However, the situation was different for Opportunity and this rover, while traveling 45 kilometers from its landing site, has helped researchers to learn more about the red planet.

Opportunity survived a sandbar in 2005 and a global dust storm in 2007, and then recorded the longest journey by a rover.

In May 2018, scientists JPL (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) received an alarming weather report from NASA’s Mars satellites. A big dust storm was going on a few hundred kilometers away from Opportunity, which prevented the sunlight from reaching the solar panels of this rover.

Attempts to make contact with this spacecraft went unanswered after this great storm. Opportunity’s 15th birthday passed on January 24 with no signal received.

Achievements

The main goals of this rover were to analyze a wide range of soil and rocks to determine the old traces of evidence of water on Mars. Over the years, Opportunity has found meteorites on Mars and observed dust storms. The probe has also been looking for clues about the presence of water in Mars’ ancient past.

An image taken by Opportunity of the Interpede crater.

Two months after arriving on the Red Planet, Opportunity discovered evidence of water flow in rocks in the layered ridge it landed on. Crystals, sulfur compounds, small oval objects that scientists likened to blueberries, and rock patterns that looked like sediments caused by water flow were among the probe’s other findings. This evidence was a major leap forward for evidence of life on Mars.

Mars was thought to be a cold and desolate world, but according to Spirit and Opportunity’s discoveries, this planet was a completely different world in the distant past. By traveling 41.7 kilometers until June 2018, this probe recorded the longest distance traveled by an extraterrestrial vehicle.

In this way, Opportunity was able to set the world record for the extraterrestrial distance set in 1973 by the lunar rover Lonokhod-2 The Soviet Union broke the record of 39 km.

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