The Little Robot That Could

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The Little Robot That Could

Photo Courtesy of NASA

Photo Courtesy of NASA

Photo Courtesy of NASA

Nick Looney, Staff Writer

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 After about a decade and a half of exploring the Red Planet’s surface (It left Earth before some younger Oratory students were even born!) the Opportunity Rover has “died” with much fanfare. Designed to last just 90 days and cover a small amount of Martian territory, “Oppy” defied all odds when it continued to function, sending information and pictures back to Earth. Oppy discovered hematite, a compound that forms in water, and noted activity in the Martian terrain reminiscent of Earth’s lakes and ponds, adding credibility to the theory that Mars once had water before a later rover, Curiosity, confirmed it. Opportunity took tens of thousands of pictures and soil and mineral samples, and its contributions to science were immense. The little rover was persistent, too. Throughout her fantastic journey, Oppy was nearly buried by dust storms, lost steering in both front wheels, lost use of a heater, and lost use of its memory drive. Yet she continued to press on, eventually reaching her final resting place, the fittingly named Perseverance Valley. A dust storm buried and destroyed Opportunity, completely covering her crucial solar panels and possibly damaging her battery. Its last transmission to Earth was “my battery is low and it is getting very dark.” Rest in peace, Oppy.

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