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NASA Mars Rover.jpg
An artist's portrayal of Opportunity operating on the surface of Mars.
Mission type Mars rover
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 2003-032A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.27849 Edit this on Wikidata
Mission durationPlanned:
90 sols (92.5 Earth days)
5,352 sols (8 Mars years),
5,498 days (15 Earth years)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeRover
Launch massTotal: 1,063 kg
  • Rover: 185 kg
  • Lander: 348 kg
  • Backshell and parachute: 209 kg
  • Heat shield: 78 kg
  • Cruise stage: 193 kg
  • Propellant: 50 kg [1]
Start of mission
Launch dateJuly 8, 2003, 03:18 UTC (2003-07-08UTC03:18) [2] [1]
Rocket 7925H-9.5 [1] [3] [4]
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-17B
End of mission
DeclaredFebruary 13, 2019 [5]
Last contactJune 10, 2018 [5]
Mars rover
Landing dateJanuary 25, 2004, [2]
05:05 UTC SCET
MSD 46236 14:35 AMT
Landing site 1°56′46″S 354°28′24″E / 1.9462°S 354.4734°E / -1.9462; 354.4734 (Opportunity rover) [6]
Eagle, Meridiani Planum
Distance driven45.16 km (28.06 mi) [7]
Nasa mer daffy.png
The launch patch for Opportunity, featuring Duck Dodgers ( Daffy Duck)
NASA Mars rovers
←  Spirit
Curiosity →

Opportunity, also known as MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B) or MER-1, is a robotic rover that was active on Mars from 2004 until 2018. [2] Opportunity was operational on Mars for 5111 sols (14 years, 138 days on Earth). Launched on July 7, 2003, as part of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover program, it landed in Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004, three weeks after its twin, Spirit (MER-A), touched down on the other side of the planet. [8] With a planned 90- sol duration of activity (slightly less than 92.5 Earth days), Spirit functioned until it got stuck in 2009 and ceased communications in 2010, while Opportunity was able to stay operational for 5111 sols after landing, maintaining its power and key systems through continual recharging of its batteries using solar power, and hibernating during events such as dust storms to save power. This careful operation allowed Opportunity to operate for 57 times its designed lifespan, exceeding the initial plan by 14 years, 47 days (in Earth time). By June 10, 2018, when it last contacted NASA, [9] [10] the rover had traveled a distance of 45.16 kilometers (28.06 miles). [7]

Mission highlights included the initial 90-sol mission, finding meteorites such as Heat Shield Rock (Meridiani Planum meteorite), and over two years of exploring and studying Victoria crater. The rover survived moderate dust storms and in 2011 reached Endeavour crater, which has been considered as a "second landing site." [11] The Opportunity mission is considered one of NASA's most successful ventures. [12]

Due to the planetary 2018 dust storm on Mars, Opportunity ceased communications on June 10 and entered hibernation on June 12, 2018. It was hoped it would reboot once the weather cleared, [13] but it did not, suggesting either a catastrophic failure or that a layer of dust had covered its solar panels. NASA hoped to re-establish contact with the rover, citing a recurring windy period which was forecast for November 2018 to January 2019, that could potentially clean off its solar panels. [14] On February 13, 2019, NASA officials declared that the Opportunity mission was complete, after the spacecraft had failed to respond to over 1,000 signals sent since August 2018. [15]

Mission overview

Opportunity's first self-portrait on Mars
(February 14–20, 2018 / sols 4998−5004)

Collectively, the Opportunity and Spirit rovers were part of the Mars Exploration Rover program in the long-term Mars Exploration Program. The Mars Exploration Program's four principal goals were to determine if the potential for life exists on Mars (in particular, whether recoverable water may be found on Mars), to characterize the Mars climate and its geology, and then to prepare for a potential human mission to Mars. The Mars Exploration Rovers were to travel across the Martian surface and perform periodic geologic analyses to determine if water ever existed on Mars as well as the types of minerals available, as well as to corroborate data taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). [16] Spirit and Opportunity were launched a month apart, on June 10 and July 8, 2003, and both reached the Martian surface by January 2004. Both rovers were designed with an expected 90 sols (92 Earth days) lifetime, but each lasted much longer than expected. Spirit's mission lasted 20 times longer than its expected lifetime, and its mission was declared ended on May 25, 2011, after it got stuck in soft sand and expended its power reserves trying to free itself. Opportunity lasted 55 times longer than its 90 sol planned lifetime, operating for 5498 days from landing to mission end. An archive of weekly updates on the rover's status can be found at the Opportunity Update Archive. [17]

Opportunity's landing site (denoted with a star)

From its initial landing, by chance, into an impact crater amidst an otherwise generally flat plain, Opportunity successfully investigated regolith and rock samples and took panoramic photos of its landing site. Its sampling allowed NASA scientists to make hypotheses concerning the presence of hematite and past presence of water on the surface of Mars. [18] Following this, it was directed to travel across the surface of Mars to investigate another crater site, Endurance crater, which it explored from June to December 2004. [19] Subsequently, Opportunity examined the impact site of its own heat shield and discovered an intact meteorite, now known as Heat Shield Rock, on the surface of Mars. [20]

From late April to early June 2005, Opportunity was perilously lodged in a sand dune, with several wheels buried in the sand. Over a six-week period, Earth-based physical simulations were performed to decide how best to extract the rover from its position without risking its permanent immobilization. Successful maneuvering a few centimeters at a time eventually freed the rover, which resumed its travels.[ citation needed]

Opportunity was directed to proceed in a southerly direction to Erebus crater, a large, shallow, partially buried crater and a stopover on the way south towards Victoria crater, between October 2005 and March 2006. It experienced some mechanical problems with its robotic arm.

In late September 2006, Opportunity reached Victoria crater and explored along the rim in a clockwise direction. In June 2007 it returned to Duck Bay, its original arrival point at Victoria crater; in September 2007 it entered the crater to begin a detailed study. In August 2008, Opportunity left Victoria crater for Endeavour crater, which it reached on August 9, 2011. [21]

Here at the rim of the Endeavour crater, the rover moved around a geographic feature named Cape York. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had detected phyllosilicates there, and the rover analyzed the rocks with its instruments to check this sighting on the ground. This structure was analyzed in depth until summer 2013. In May 2013 the rover was heading south to a hill named Solander Point.[ citation needed]

Lifetime progress map with Washington, D.C. overlay for size and distance comparison

Opportunity's total odometry by June 10, 2018 (sol 5111), was 45.16 km (28.06 mi), while the dust factor was 10.8. [22] Since January 2013, the solar array dust factor (one of the determinants of solar power production) varied from a relatively dusty 0.467 on December 5, 2013 (sol 3507), to a relatively clean 0.964 on May 13, 2014 (sol 3662). [23]

In December 2014, NASA reported that Opportunity was suffering from " amnesia" events in which the rover failed to write data, e.g. telemetry information, to non-volatile memory. The hardware failure was believed to be due to an age-related fault in one of the rover's seven memory banks. As a result, NASA had aimed to force the rover's software to ignore the failed memory bank; [24] amnesia events continued to occur, however, which eventually resulted in vehicle resets.[ clarification needed] In light of this, on Sol 4027 (May 23, 2015), the rover was configured to operate in RAM-only mode, completely avoiding the use of non-volatile memory for storage. [25]

End of mission

Graph of atmospheric opacity and Opportunity's energy reserve
Opportunity rover ‒ last image [26] (of 228,771 raw images ‒ June 10, 2018) [27]

In early June 2018, a large planetary-scale dust storm developed, and within a few days the rover's solar panels were not generating enough power to maintain communications, with the last contact on June 10, 2018. [5] NASA stated that they did not expect to resume communication until after the storm subsided, [28] but the rover kept silent even after the storm ended in early October, [28] suggesting either a catastrophic failure or a layer of dust covering its solar panels. [29] The team remained hopeful that a windy period between November 2018 and January 2019 might clear the dust from its solar panels, as had happened before. [29] Wind was detected nearby on January 8, and on January 26 the mission team announced a plan to begin broadcasting a new set of commands to the rover in case its radio receiver failed. [30]

On February 12, 2019, [31] past and present members of the mission team gathered in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)'s Space Flight Operations Facility to watch final commands being transmitted to Opportunity via the 70-meter (230-foot) dish of the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. Following 25 minutes of transmission of the final 4 sets of commands, communication attempts with the rover were handed off to Canberra, Australia.[ citation needed]

More than 835 recovery commands were transmitted since losing signal in June 2018 to the end of January 2019 with over 1000 recovery commands transmitted before February 13, 2019. [15] [32] [33] NASA officials held a press conference on February 13 to declare an official end to the mission. NASA associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said, "It is therefore that I am standing here with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission is complete." [34] As NASA ended their attempts to contact the rover, the last data sent was the song " I'll Be Seeing You" performed by Billie Holiday. [35] Assets that had been needed to support Opportunity were transitioned to support the Mars rovers Curiosity and Perseverance. [34]

The final communication from the rover came on June 10, 2018 (sol 5111) from Perseverance Valley, [15] and indicated a solar array energy production of 22 Watt-hours for the sol, and the highest atmospheric opacity (tau) ever measured on Mars: 10.8. [36]

Mars dust stormoptical depth tau – May to September 2018
( Mars Climate Sounder; Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter)
(1:38; animation; October 30, 2018; file description
Opportunity solar array energy production per sol (2018 dust storm)
Date Watt-hours [28]
Sol 5079 (May 8, 2018)
Sol 5100 (May 29, 2018)
Sol 5105 (June 3, 2018)
Sol 5106 (June 4, 2018)
Sol 5107 (June 6, 2018)
Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018)


HiRise image from MRO, was laid over 3-D topographic map of the terrain, with 5-fold vertical exaggeration; view looking west on to Perseverance Valley on the western rim of Endeavour crater (February 15, 2018) [37]

The scientific objectives of the Mars Exploration Rover mission were to: [38]

  • Search for and characterize a variety of rocks and regolith that hold clues to past water activity. In particular, samples sought include those that have minerals deposited by water-related processes such as precipitation, evaporation, sedimentary cementation or hydrothermal activity.
  • Determine the distribution and composition of minerals, rocks, and regolith surrounding the landing sites.
  • Determine what geologic processes have shaped the local terrain and influenced the chemistry. Such processes could include water or wind erosion, sedimentation, hydrothermal mechanisms, volcanism, and cratering.
  • Perform calibration and validation of surface observations made by MRO instruments. This will help determine the accuracy and effectiveness of various instruments that survey Martian geology from orbit.
  • Search for iron-containing minerals, identify and quantify relative amounts of specific mineral types that contain water or were formed in water, such as iron-bearing carbonates.
  • Characterize the mineralogy and textures of rocks and regolith and determine the processes that created them.
  • Search for geological clues to the environmental conditions that existed when liquid water was present.
  • Assess whether those environments were conducive to life.

During the next two decades, NASA will continue to conduct missions with other spacecraft to address whether life ever arose on Mars. The search begins with determining whether the Martian environment was ever suitable for life. Life, as we understand it, requires water, so the history of water on Mars is critical to finding out if the Martian environment was ever conducive to life. Although the Mars Exploration Rovers did not have the ability to detect life directly, they offered very important information on the habitability of the environment in the planet's history.

Design and construction

Pancam Mast Assembly (PMA)
Mars Opportunity rover - before and after processing image (posted June 4, 2019)

Spirit and Opportunity are twin rovers, each a six-wheeled, solar-powered robot standing 1.5 m (5 ft) high, 2.3 m (7+12 ft) wide, and 1.6 m (5 ft) long and weighing 180 kilograms (400 pounds). Six wheels on a rocker-bogie system enable mobility. Each wheel has its own motor, the vehicle is steered at front and rear and was designed to operate safely at tilts of up to 30 degrees. Its maximum speed is 5 centimeters (2 inches) per second, while its average speed was about a sixth of this (0.89 cm or 38 in) per second. The drilling mechanisms of both rovers utilize pieces of the fallen World Trade Center's metal as cable-protecting shields. [39] [40]

Solar arrays generate about 140 watts for up to fourteen hours per sol, while rechargeable lithium ion batteries stored energy for use at night. Opportunity's onboard computer uses a 20 MHz RAD6000 CPU with 128 MB of DRAM, 3 MB of EEPROM, and 256 MB of flash memory. The rover's operating temperature ranges from −40 to +40 °C (−40 to 104 °F) and radioisotope heaters provide a base level of heating, assisted by electrical heaters when necessary. [41] A gold film and a layer of silica aerogel provides insulation.

Communications depend on an omnidirectional low-gain antenna communicating at a low data rate and a steerable high-gain antenna, both in direct contact with Earth. A low gain antenna is also used to relay data to spacecraft orbiting Mars.

Fixed science/engineering instruments included:

The rover arm holds the following instruments:

  • Mössbauer spectrometer (MB) MIMOS II – used for close-up investigations of the mineralogy of iron-bearing rocks and regolith.
  • Alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) – close-up analysis of the abundances of elements that make up rocks and regolith.
  • Magnets – for collecting magnetic dust particles
  • Microscopic Imager (MI) – obtains close-up, high-resolution images of rocks and regolith.
  • Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) – exposes fresh material for examination by instruments on board.

The cameras produce 1024-pixel by 1024-pixel images, the data is compressed with ICER, stored, and transmitted later.

The rover's name was chosen through a NASA sponsored student essay competition.

Opportunity was 'driven' by several operators throughout its mission, including JPL roboticist Vandi Verma who also cowrote the PLEXIL command language used in its software. [42]


MER-B NavCam image Sol 4959 [43] Start of January 2018, looking along rim of Endeavour crater

The rover uses a combination of solar cells and a rechargeable chemical battery. [44] This class of rover has two rechargeable lithium batteries, each composed of 8 cells with 8 amp-hour capacity. [45] At the start of the mission the solar panels could provide up to around 900 watt-hours (Wh) to recharge the battery and power system in one Sol, but this could vary due to a variety of factors. [44] In Eagle crater the cells were producing about 840 Wh, but by Sol 319 in December 2004, it had dropped to 730 Wh. [46]

Like Earth, Mars has seasonal variations that reduce sunlight during winter. However, since the Martian year is longer than that of the Earth, the seasons fully rotate roughly once every 2 Earth years. [47] By 2016, MER-B had endured seven Martian winters, during which times power levels drop which can mean the rover avoids doing activities that use a lot of power. [47] During its first winter power levels dropped to under 300 Wh per day for two months, but some later winters were not as bad. [47]

Another factor that can reduce received power is dust in the atmosphere, especially dust storms. [48] Dust storms have occurred quite frequently when Mars is closest to the Sun. [48] Global dust storms in 2007 reduced power levels for Opportunity and Spirit so much they could only run for a few minutes each day. [48] Due to the 2018 dust storms on Mars, Opportunity entered hibernation mode on June 12, [49] [50] but it remained silent after the storm subsided in early October. [28]


Examples of watt-hours per sol collected by the rover: [51]

Solar array energy production throughout mission graphs
Opportunity solar array energy production (2013–2014)
Date Watt-hours
Sol 3376 (July 23, 2013)
Sol 3384 (July 31, 2013)
Sol 3390 (August 6, 2013)
Sol 3430 (September 16, 2013)
Sol 3452 (October 9, 2013)
Sol 3472 (October 30, 2013)
Sol 3478 (November 5, 2013)
Sol 3494 (November 21, 2013)
Sol 3507 (December 5, 2013)
Sol 3534 (January 1, 2014)
Sol 3602 (March 12, 2014)
Sol 3606 (March 16, 2014)
Sol 3621 (April 1, 2014)
Sol 3676 (May 27, 2014)
Sol 3710 (July 1, 2014)
Sol 3744 (August 5, 2014)
Sol 3771 (September 2, 2014)
Sol 3805 (October 7, 2014)
Sol 3834 (November 6, 2014)
Sol 3859 (December 1, 2014)
Opportunity solar array energy production (2015–2016)
Date Watt-hours
Sol 3894 (January 6, 2015)
Sol 3921 (February 3, 2015)
Sol 3948 (March 3, 2015)
Sol 3982 (April 7, 2015)
Sol 4010 (May 5, 2015)
Sol 4055 (June 21, 2015)
Sol 4084 (July 20, 2015)
Sol 4119 (August 25, 2015)
Sol 4153 (September 29, 2015)
Sol 4180 (October 27, 2015)
Sol 4201 (November 18, 2015)
Sol 4221 (December 8, 2015)
Sol 4246 (January 3, 2016)
Sol 4275 (February 2, 2016)
Sol 4303 (March 1, 2016)
Sol 4337 (April 5, 2016)
Sol 4377 (May. 16, 2016)
Sol 4398 (June 7, 2016)
Sol 4425 (July 5, 2016)
Sol 4457 (August 7, 2016)
Sol 4486 (September 5, 2016)
Sol 4514 (October 4, 2016)
Sol 4541 (November 1, 2016)
Sol 4575 (December 6, 2016)
Opportunity solar array energy production (2017–2018)
Date Watt-hours
Sol 4602 (January 3, 2017)
Sol 4636 (February 7, 2017)
Sol 4663 (March 6, 2017)
Sol 4691 (April 4, 2017)
Sol 4718 (May. 2, 2017)
Sol 4752 (June 6, 2017)
Sol 4786 (July 11, 2017)
Sol 4814 (August 8, 2017)
Sol 4841 (September 5, 2017)
Sol 4875 (October 10, 2017)
Sol 4909 (November 14, 2017)
Sol 4934 (December 10, 2017)
Sol 4970 (January 16, 2018)
Sol 4991 (February 8, 2018)
Sol 5025 (March 13, 2018)
Sol 5052 (April 10, 2018)
Sol 5079 (May 8, 2018)
Sol 5100 (May 29, 2018)
Sol 5105 (June 3, 2018)
Sol 5106 (June 4, 2018)
Sol 5107 (June 6, 2018)
Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018)


Delta II Heavy (7925H-9.5) lifting off from pad 17-B carrying MER-B in 2003 with Opportunity rover

Opportunity's launch was managed by NASA's Launch Services Program. This was the first launch of the Delta II Heavy. The launch period went from June 25 to July 15, 2003. The first launch attempt occurred on June 28, 2003, but the spacecraft launched nine days later on July 7, 2003, due to delays for range safety and winds, then later to replace items on the rocket (insulation and a battery). Each day had two instantaneous launch opportunities. On the day of launch, the launch was delayed to the second opportunity (11:18 p.m. EDT) in order to fix a valve. [52]

Animation of Opportunity trajectory from July 9, 2003, to January 25, 2004
   Sun ·    Earth ·    Mars ·    Opportunity


Annotated elevation map of Opportunity landing site and some surrounding craters including Endeavour and Airy
Mars Global Surveyor orbiter's photograph of landing site showing " hole in one." (See also: simulation of Opportunity's trajectory on arrival at Mars in January 2004). (See also on Google Maps)

On January 25, 2004 (GMT) (January 24, 2004, PST), [53] the airbag-protected landing craft settled onto the surface of Mars in the Eagle crater.

Heat shield impact site

In late December 2004, Opportunity reached the impact site of its heat shield, and took a panorama around Sol 325. [54]

Area around the heat shield, including the resulting shield impact point. The heat shield was released before the rover landed and struck the surface on its own, and the rover later drove to the impact site. Near this location it discovered the first meteorite found on Mars, Heat Shield Rock

Scientific findings

Heat Shield Rock turned out to be the first meteorite discovered on Mars.

Opportunity has provided substantial evidence in support of the mission's primary scientific goals: to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and regolith that hold clues to past water activity on Mars. In addition to investigating the water, Opportunity has also obtained astronomical observations and atmospheric data.[ citation needed]


Honoring Opportunity's great contribution to the exploration of Mars, an asteroid was named Opportunity: 39382 Opportunity. [55] The name was proposed by Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld who, along with Cornelis Johannes van Houten and Tom Gehrels, discovered the asteroid on September 24, 1960. Opportunity's lander is Challenger Memorial Station. [56]

On July 28, 2014, it was announced that Opportunity, having traversed over 40 km (25 mi), had become the rover achieving the longest off-world distance, surpassing the previous record of 39 km (24 mi) on the Moon by Lunokhod 2. [57] [58]

On March 24, 2015, NASA celebrated Opportunity having traveled the distance of a marathon race, 42.195 km (26.219 mi), from the start of Opportunity's landing and traveling on Mars. [59]


Steepest slope

In March 2016, while trying to reach target on the slope of Marathon Valley in Cape Tribulation, the Mars rover attained a slope of 32 degrees, the highest angle yet for the rover since its mission began. This was so steep that dust that had accumulated on its top panels began to flow downward. [60]

Highest elevation

Opportunity's view from the top of Cape Tribulation on the rim of Endeavour Crater, January 22, 2015.

On Sol 3894 (January 6, 2015), Opportunity reached the summit of "Cape Tribulation," which is 135 m (443 ft) above "Botany Bay" level and the highest point yet reached by the rover on the western rim of Endeavour Crater according to NASA. [28]

Driving distance

Opportunity rover "off-world" driving distance record, compared to other rovers. Dashed grey vertical bar represents the Marathon distance of 42.195 km [57] [58]

Opportunity was the first rover to hit the length of a marathon (42.2 km or 26.2 mi), having taken 11 years and 2 months to clock the distance. The JPL technicians celebrated the occasion by running a race. [61]

Longest traverse

Opportunity held the record for longest distance 220 m (720 ft) [62] traversed in a single sol by any rover until February 4, 2022, when Perseverance traversed 245 m (804 ft) in one sol. [63]


The rover could take pictures with its different cameras, but only the PanCam camera had the ability to photograph a scene with different color filters. The panorama views are usually built up from PanCam images. By February 3, 2018, Opportunity had returned 224,642 pictures. [64] [65]



A selection of panoramas from the mission:

Panorama of Fram crater (Sol 88, April 23, 2004)
Panorama of Naturaliste crater, in foreground (March 1, 2005)
Panorama taken on the rim of Erebus crater. The rover's solar panels are seen on the lower half (December 5, 2005).
Panorama of the rim of Endeavour crater from Cape Tribulation (January 22, 2015)
Panorama of Spirit of St. Louis crater, a shallow crater about 34 meters (110 ft) long and 24 meters (80 ft) across. In its center is Lindbergh Mound, about 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 ft) high. (annotated; false color; May 2015). [67]
Panorama of Orion crater (enhanced color; April 26, 2017) [68]
Opportunity looks north as it departs Cape Tribulation, its southern end shown here (April 2017) [69]
Panorama above Perseverance Valley (June 19, 2017)
Final panorama image taken by Opportunity between May and June 2018 prior to being disabled by the dust storms.
Panorama of the Opportunity rover team by "Dusty" – a testing replica of the rover on Earth (September 6, 2018).

Close-up images

From orbit

Area maps

Traverse maps

An example of a rover traverse map featuring a line showing path of the rover, and mission sols, which are Mars days counted from its landing and typical of Mars surface mission time reporting. Topographic lines and various feature names are also common.

Acheron Fossae Acidalia Planitia Alba Mons Amazonis Planitia Aonia Planitia Arabia Terra Arcadia Planitia Argentea Planum Argyre Planitia Chryse Planitia Claritas Fossae Cydonia Mensae Daedalia Planum Elysium Mons Elysium Planitia Gale crater Hadriaca Patera Hellas Montes Hellas Planitia Hesperia Planum Holden crater Icaria Planum Isidis Planitia Jezero crater Lomonosov crater Lucus Planum Lycus Sulci Lyot crater Lunae Planum Malea Planum Maraldi crater Mareotis Fossae Mareotis Tempe Margaritifer Terra Mie crater Milankovič crater Nepenthes Mensae Nereidum Montes Nilosyrtis Mensae Noachis Terra Olympica Fossae Olympus Mons Planum Australe Promethei Terra Protonilus Mensae Sirenum Sisyphi Planum Solis Planum Syria Planum Tantalus Fossae Tempe Terra Terra Cimmeria Terra Sabaea Terra Sirenum Tharsis Montes Tractus Catena Tyrrhen Terra Ulysses Patera Uranius Patera Utopia Planitia Valles Marineris Vastitas Borealis Xanthe TerraMap of Mars
The image above contains clickable links
( viewdiscuss)
Interactive image map of the global topography of Mars, overlain with locations of Mars Lander and Rover sites. Hover your mouse over the image to see the names of over 60 prominent geographic features, and click to link to them. Coloring of the base map indicates relative elevations, based on data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor. Whites and browns indicate the highest elevations (+12 to +8 km); followed by pinks and reds (+8 to +3 km); yellow is 0 km; greens and blues are lower elevations (down to −8 km). Axes are latitude and longitude; Polar regions are noted.
(    Active ROVER  Inactive   Active LANDER  Inactive   Future )
Beagle 2
Bradbury Landing
Deep Space 2

InSight Landing
Mars 2
Mars 3
Mars 6
Mars Polar Lander
Challenger Memorial Station
Mars 2020
Green Valley
Schiaparelli EDM
Carl Sagan Memorial Station
Columbia Memorial Station
Thomas Mutch Memorial Station
Gerald Soffen Memorial Station


Following its launch, Opportunity was anthropomorphized by its operators: the rover was called a "she," drawing from nautical tradition, and given an affectionate nickname, "Oppy." One scientist, who worked with Opportunity for over a decade, attributed this to the rover's unexpectedly long lifespan, which he called a story of "an underdog beating the odds," and its "familiar, almost biologically inspired shape." [72] The media attention surrounding Opportunity's shutdown spread this usage to the general public.

With word on February 12, 2019, that NASA was likely to conclude the Opportunity mission, many media outlets and commentators issued statements praising the mission's success and stating their goodbyes to the rover. One journalist, Jacob Margolis, tweeted his translation of the last data transmission sent by Opportunity on June 10, 2018, as "My battery is low and it's getting dark." The phrase struck a chord with the public, inspiring a period of mourning, artwork, and tributes to the memory of Opportunity. [73]

When the quote became widely reported, some news reports mistakenly asserted that the rover sent that exact message in English, resulting in NASA being inundated with additional questions. Margolis wrote a clarifying article on February 16, making it clear he had taken statements from NASA officials who were interpreting the data sent by Opportunity, both on the state of its low power and Mars's high atmospheric opacity, and rephrased them in a poetic manner, never to imply the rover had sent the specific words. [73] [74]

Documentary film

Amazon Studios announced in March 2021 that it was developing a documentary, Good Night Oppy, based on the rover and its prolonged mission. The documentary was directed by Ryan White, and included support from JPL and Industrial Light & Magic. [75]


See also


  1. ^ a b c "Launch Event Details – When did the Rovers Launch?". Archived from the original on February 18, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Nelson, Jon. "Mars Exploration Rover – Opportunity". NASA. Archived from the original on January 24, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  3. ^ "Mars Exploration Rover project, NASA/JPL document NSS ISDC 2001 27/05/2001" (PDF). p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2010. Retrieved April 28, 2009.
  4. ^ McDowell, Jonathan (July 15, 2003). "Jonathan's Space Report No. 504". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved February 19, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Agle, D.C.; Brown, Dwayne; Wendel, JoAnna (February 13, 2019). "NASA's Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars Comes to End". NASA. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  6. ^ Staff. "Mapping the Mars Rovers' Landing Sites". Esri. Archived from the original on May 4, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Mars Exploration Rover Mission: All Opportunity Updates". Archived from the original on August 30, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Spirit landed on January 4, 2004.
  9. ^ Malik, T. (June 21, 2018). "Mars Dust Storm 2018: How It Grew & What It Means for the Opportunity Rover". Future.plc. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  10. ^ Rayl, A.J.S. (August 1, 2018). "The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Dust Storm Wanes, Opportunity Sleeps, Team Prepares Recovery Strategy". Planetary Society. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  11. ^ "Opportunity on verge of new discovery". September 14, 2011. Archived from the original on September 24, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  12. ^ Amos, Jonathan (February 13, 2019). "Nasa calls time on silent Opportunity Mars rover". BBC. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  13. ^ Greicius, Tony (September 24, 2018). "Opportunity Emerges in a Dusty Picture". NASA. Archived from the original on October 15, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  14. ^ Greicius, Tony (October 29, 2018). "Update on Opportunity Rover Recovery Efforts". NASA. Archived from the original on November 3, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  15. ^ a b c "NASA's Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars Comes to End". NASA. February 13, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  16. ^ "Mars Exploration Rover Mission Science Objectives". Retrieved February 19, 2021.
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External links

NASA links

MSSS and WUSTL links

Other links

  • Archive of MER progress reports by A.J.S. Rayl at