The end has finally come for NASA's Opportunity Mars rover

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NASA expected the solar panels to recharge when the dust settled, as had happened before, but the agency never heard from the rover again.

Opportunity was created to operate for just 90 days on the martian surface but far outlived even the most ardent supporter's wildest expectations, roving 28 miles across the surface of Mars for more than 14 years.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which designed, built and has operated all four of the rovers sent successfully to Mars' surface, according to its website, also praised Opportunity as completing "one of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration". Earlier in Opportunity's mission days, a heater on its robotic arm failed to turn off, draining the rover's energy in the process.

Its longevity and discoveries are a testament to Opportunity's design and construction.

The legacy is being carried on by NASA's nuclear-powered Curiosity rover, which arrived on Mars in 2012 and found even stronger evidence that the Red Planet could have been habitable billions of years ago. "They were our eyes and ears, our remote robot bodies".

NASA's beloved Mars rover, Opportunity, has been officially laid to rest more than seven months after it was engulfed by a huge dust storm and fell silent.

Project scientist Matthew Golombek said these rover missions are meant to help answer an "almost theological" question: Does life form wherever conditions are just right, or "are we really, really lucky?"

On July 7, 2003, NASA launched Opportunity.

The final commands were sent Tuesday night. But no response came, prompting NASA to conclude that she remains asleep, and her mission can now be honored as a resounding success.

This Jan. 4, 2018 photo made available by NASA shows a view from the front Hazard Avoidance Camera of the Opportunity rover on the inboard slope of the western rim of Endeavour Crater on the planet Mars.

Together with Spirit, the rover helped NASA better understand our celestial neighbor.

NASA lost contact with Opportunity on 10 June 2018 during a historic global storm that blanketed Mars with dust for around 3 months. That storm clouded the red Planet's skies with dust and blotting out the Sun. Opportunity's batteries went through more than 5,000 charging cycles, and were still capable of holding an 85 percent charge after more than 14 years of use. The team listened for the rover every day, worrying as the skies continued to darken and the temperatures dropped.

Mobility is crucial in this line of work, he added: "Imagine you're a field geologist, and someone takes you out in a helicopter and sets you down in a fascinating new place - and then they nail your boots to the ground".

It may be time to finally say goodbye to the Opportunity rover.

The official word on Opportunity's fate will be announced at 11 a.m. PT Wednesday when NASA broadcasts the briefing live via NASA TV and YouTube (which you can access by clicking the embed below). "I feel great about this", he said, stressing that both Spirit and Opportunity died honorable deaths after doing far more than was expected of them. "And our beloved Opportunity remains silent", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, told a news conference Wednesday afternoon.