The Internet Says Goodbye to Mars Rover Opportunity

For 15 years now, NASA’s  Mars rover Opportunity has been exploring the uncharted regions of the red planet. But in mid-2018, we stopped receiving transmissions from the rover, and began to fear it may have been finally been gone for good. On Wednesday afternoon, NASA will announce if its final attempt to contact the rover was successful or not. It’s unlikely the space agency will hear anything back from the robot nearly 34 million miles away, and at that time they will announce the end of the mission. No one is taking it well, and we don’t just mean scientists and engineers.

Missions end all the time, but the swan song for the little machine, affectionately called “Oppy,” is hitting people around the world in a way few other robot demises do. It all has to do with the unlikely and incredible length of Opportunity’s mission and its final message.

In a fantastic Twitter thread, science reporter Jacob Margolis explained the history of Oppy’s amazing journey—which began when it landed on Mars in 2004 alongside its twin robot Spirit, whose own mission ended in 2010—and what went wrong for Opportunity on the red planet last June. (FYI: You might need a moment to gather yourself after reading the whole story.)

A 90-day mission that lasted over 15 years and covered 28 miles across the beautiful barren surface of our celestial neighbor would be enough to make Oppy’s fatal dust storm ending emotional, but it’s Opportunity’s last message that has turned this goodbye into something bigger. Margolis said its final note was basically, “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.”

Yeah. Yeah.

As you can imagine, a real life Wall-E death scene has hit many hard, and they’ve taken to Twitter to bid farewell to a machine who represents so much: hard work, perseverance, hope, dreaming big, a better future beyond our own world, and how everyone and everything in the universe must one day face its own ending.  Since we’re not alone in getting a little choked up over what Oppy represents, here are some of our favorite goodbyes, memorials, and hopeful messages to bid adieu to a special robot who gave more than we ever imagined.

Farewell Opportunity. Your mission might be over, but we won’t forget what you did.

Featured Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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