NASA Rover Finally Bites The Dust On Mars After 15 Years

This Jan. 5, 2016 photo made available by NASA shows the tool turret at the end of the the Opportunity rover's robotic arm on the southern side of "Marathon Valley," which goes through the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

(AP) – NASA’s longest-running rover on Mars, Opportunity, has been pronounced dead, 15 years after it landed on the red planet.

The six-wheeled vehicle was built to operate just three months. But it kept going and going until it was finally doomed by a ferocious dust storm eight months ago.  Flight controllers made numerous attempts to contact it and sent one final series of recovery commands Tuesday night, accompanied by one last wake-up song, Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.” There was no response, only silence.

Remarkably spry until communication ceased last June, Opportunity roamed a record 28 miles (45 kilometers) around Mars.  Opportunity and its long-dead twin rover, Spirit, found evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life.

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