A piece of NASA's heart sits silent on Mars. The space agency called an this week after months of failed attempts to revive the machine after a massive dust storm in mid-2018 blotted out its solar panels and destroyed its ability to communicate with Earth. from scientists and space fans alike.
Uzbekistani artist Rostislav Shekhovtsov was so moved by the rover's finale, he created a digital painting to honor Oppy. It's a tearjerker. It shows two astronauts in the future finding the dust-covered rover on Mars.
Shekhovtsov posted the image to Instagram, captioning it with "It's time to go home, Oppy." The artist says he created the work in Photoshop over the course of five to seven hours.
What makes the art piece all the more touching is how one of the astronauts reaches out to Opportunity's head-like camera array, an acknowledgement of how many of us have come to treat the rover like a person who should be mourned.
"Oppy is alive for me," Shekhovtsov tells me. He's convinced humans will one day fly to Mars and recover the rover.
Opportunity outlasted its original three-month mission in 2004 and delivered over 14 years of scientific discoveries and stunning Mars images.
NASA's longest-lived Red Planet rover couldn't have earned a more loving tribute than Shekhovtsov's hopeful and heartbreaking vision of the future.