NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars has been officially pronounced dead. Its amazingly successful mission lasted nearly 15 years, well beyond its initial three-month goal. Opportunity provided the first proof that water once existed on Mars and shaped its surface, a crucial piece of knowledge informing both current and future missions.
NASA is racing to finish a new Mars rover, and the mission just got a launch and land date. The new rover will leave Earth by August 2020, and in February of 2021, it will hit the surface of the Red Planet to search for signs of life.
The Curiosity rover was sent up to Mars with the important job of hunting for microbes on the red planet’s surface. Now, that job is done, and Curiosity is getting a new mission — and that mission is all about the past, and future, of life on Mars.