The final messages sent between NASA and its Mars rover Opportunity, which was officially declared ‘dead’ last week, have been revealed.
The six-wheeled vehicle was initially designed and built to last just 90 days, but it ended up carrying on with its mission for more than 15 years.
According to science journalist Jacob Margolis, Opportunity’s final message sent back to Earth on 10 June last year was: “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.”
Margolis went on to say that NASA was hopeful that the planet’s windy season would result in the dust being blown off the solar panels, which may have been what was causing it to go ‘dark’, however, that hasn’t happened and repeated requests to contact the rover have failed.
In a press conference on 13 February, John Callas, manager of the Mars Exploration Rover project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said: “This is a hard day. Even though it’s a machine and we’re saying goodbye, it’s still very hard and very poignant, but we had to do that. We came to that point.”
Couldn’t agree more, mate. I’ve not felt this emotional over a robot since I saw Wall-E.
And if that isn’t quite enough to bring tears to your eyes, then wait until you hear the final message NASA sent to Opportunity.
According to Time, NASA scientists sent a number of songs to Opportunity in attempts to rouse it before finally accepting that it wasn’t responding and sending Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which contains the lyrics: “I’ll find you in the morning sun. And when the night is new, I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”