By Ellie Henderson
On January 25, 2004, NASA sent rovers to Mars to do research on the Red Planet.
Opportunity was one of the rovers that was sent over the other was called Spirit, they both had the same purpose on Mars. The information that the rovers gathered proved and disproved theories that NASA scientists had on life at Mars.
Both rovers exceeded their planned 90-day missions lifetimes by many years. Spirit lasted 20 times longer than its original design, then it died due to a sand storm on Mars that covered its solar panels which is it’s only source of power in 2010. Because the rovers had very different life spans Opportunity was able to take 217,594 raw images while Spirit took 124,838 raw images. Opportunity also traveled a total of 28 miles and Spirit traveled 4.8 miles. Opportunity has worked on Mars longer than any other robot, nearly 15 years.
Opportunity was created to uncover signs of Mars’s watery past and transform our understanding of the Red Planet. It was able to give evidence of there once being water on the surface of Mars a long time ago. Opportunity also helped scientists discover new solutions for when Earth is no longer sustainable for human life.
The last time Opportunity communicated with Earth was on June 10, 2018. This is because of a planet-wide dust storm that covered the rovers solar panels which is its source of power. A poetic translation of Opportunity's last message to earth was ‘My battery is running low, and it’s getting dark’.
Opportunity was one of the most successful rovers that NASA has ever produced. It found lots of important evidence that scientists have been trying to find for decades. Mr. Rix, an Earth and Space Science teacher at Glenelg High School said that “Opportunity found a lot of important research, in terms of geology it showed evidence of cross bedding in Mars, which we found has the same process on Earth”. Opportunity has been able to show very important evidence that Mars and Earth are a lot closer in their chemical makeup than scientists originally thought.
One of the reasons that Opportunity was put onto Mars was to see if it could sustain life and to to find evidence of Mars having a water. Zach Jaap, a ninth grade student at Glenelg High School said that “Opportunity found evidence that a long time ago water was on Mars which is useful to scientists today to finding solutions towards Earth’s crippling health”. From this evidence scientists have been able to answer question that water was once on the surface of Mars. Scientists know that humans cannot live on Earth forever due to the Sun’s expansion that one day will engulf Earth and because of Earth's current health. They hope that they can use Mars as a stepping stone to being able to find a new planet for humans to live on.
The time that humans have on Earth is decreasing rapidly, but there is no singular reason why Earth is having so many issues. Studies have shown that because of the amount of greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere which is one of the culprits of global warming. This is causing the sea level to rise because of the melting of ice caps. Also humans are using up all of the raw materials that Earth has, and once we completely run out of those materials then machines that we rely on for day to day life will be unusable, like cell phones, computers, and cars. If humans do not start changing their old habits now then Earth will be unfit for human life completely.
Humans are running out of options and out of time. Opportunity was one of the chances we had in learning more about what we can do and what chances we have on finding a new place to go when planet Earth dies. Opportunity did help us find some amazing research that is crucial and extremely important to the future of the human race. If we want to live a longer life as a species then we have to find new solutions and fix the things that we can to make Earth clean and as beautiful as it once was.