Initially, the mission of the Mars rover Opportunity was designed for only three months, but last Saturday a unique spacecraft marked its 5000th working day, 56 times exceeding the deadline.
Mission Opportunity was launched on July 7, 2003 with the help of the launch vehicle Delta II. Landing on Mars took place on January 25, 2004. In spite of his age, respectable by terrestrial (and according to Martian) standards, the rover “feels” quite normal, continuing to send to the Earth the most valuable information, vital for the future Martian mission. However, there are problems: dust and dirt on solar panels reduce the energy potential of the spacecraft.
Currently, Opportunity has settled in the Valley of Fortitude on the edge of the Endeavor crater, which he has been studying for several years. In the process of studying its surface, a hematite mineral was discovered – in fact, iron ore (Fe 2 O 3 ), proving that water previously existed on Mars. In total, the rover sent 225,000 surface images to the Earth and even first discovered a Martian meteorite.
Not without trouble. So in 2005, the communication with the control center was partially lost, and in 2014 there were problems with the memory of the on-board computer. However, despite this, from July 28, 2014 to March 24, 2015, he broke the world record of the run outside the Earth, breaking the marathon distance – 42 km 195 meters.