Another Mars rover bites the dust, but NASA's not finished yet
Another Mars rover bites the dust, but NASA's not finished yet
6:31

Another Mars rover bites the dust, but NASA's not finished yet

Science
Tonight, Opportunity is dead. No, I'm not talking about your hopes and plans for the future, though you are getting old. NASA's Opportunity rover has just died on the surface of Mars. So why does Mars keep killing everything we send up there? And now that Opius is dead, what are the plus for the red planet as we continue out great galaxy quest across space. By grab first hammer, I'm Claire Reilly. Welcome to Watch this Space. [MUSIC] From the CNET studio in Sydney, this is your guide to everything on Earth you need to know about space. And tonight, life on Mars. It's called. It's lonely and it's particularly hot if you're a robotic rover that was flung onto to the planet by a selfish and distance race of humans desperate for you to do their science homework. That's right. We keep shooting spacecraft to Mars and they keep on dying. Opportunity is just the latest After spending almost 16 years banging about the Red Planet, the Mars Opportunity rover, the adorable Wall-E of space probes, has finally stopped roving. Let's recap, launched in 2003, Opportunity was part of the Mars Exploration Rover mission alongside its twin rover, Spirit. Both rovers touched down in January 2004. Spirit, the pushy twin, came first, followed by Opportunity three weeks later. Yikes, that can't have been a good labor. Both rovers touched down in giant craters on opposite sides of the planet where liquid water could have once existed in the past. They set out to study rocks and soil, and eventually found evidence of water showing the red planet could have once been a wet plant that supported microbial lives. The rovers lived long and prospered, going full Vulcan and living well beyond their 90-day mission timelines. Earth lost contacted with Spirit in 2010, and while opportunity tried to cling on. lasting more than five thousand days longer than it was supposed to, its mission was eventually ended in February 2019. Opportunity eventually met its fate like all the others, dying cold and alone and far from home. Man, even Willy wasn't that sad. So why does everything we shoot in Mars have to die a horrible death? Well, turns out life on Mars is really hot, with more his CNET, CNET's only Mars correspondent Claire Riley. [SOUND] Earth, out human home. Over billions of years conditions here have perfectly evolved to becoming ideal support system for life. With plants and animals and beautifully maintained [UNKNOWN] fountains that make up our natural wilderness. But life on Mars sucks out loud, and for a Martian rover that's flown 350 million miles to a strange planet, the odds of mission success are slim. The terrain is rough with deep craters and windswept dunes. The atmosphere is thin and massive dust storms can cloud the planet for weeks at a time. The first rover to survive on the surface of Mars was Sojourner, part of the Pathfinder mission. After sciencing the hell out of it for three months in 1997, its batteries eventually died and NASA lost contact. But Not before it had managed to send through some super awesome 90s images of the surface of Mars, radical. [MUSIC] The rough terrain on Mars, that's what killed Spirit. In 2009, after traveling 7.7 kilometers over five years, Spirit's wheels churned into a sand trap. While NASA attempted to reverse the rover route, it couldn't get Spirit to angle its solar arrays towards the sun to recharge its batteries. Eventually, in 2010, NASA had to watch on as its noble steed fell into hibernation. You've got to move or you'll die. I won't give up. Go quick. Aah. And finally opportunity, death by dust storm. NASA lost contact with [UNKNOWN] back in 2018 when a Mars wide dust storm blot out the sun and prevented the rover's solar arrays from storing solar energy. Despite trying to send more than 800 rescue commands to the rover, NASA couldn't make contact and eventually declared the mission ended in February In 2019. Another rover dead, another corpse hit upon the Marsian funeral pile it's binary cries falling silent, on an alien planet far from home. Thanks Claire. Opportunity is the only space craft that Mars's claimed. Ever since the U.S. and the Soviet Union began attempting missions to Mars in the 1960s. We've crashed so much junk into the surface of the planet. It's starting to look kinda like a demolition derby after 10 [UNKNOWN]. Roll the tape. [MUSIC] 1971, the Mars 2 soviet space [UNKNOWN] became the first human made object to land on the surface of Mars by crash landing, Mars 3, failed after landing, Mars 6, contact lost NASA's Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space Two Rover, lost. UK's Beagle Rover, lost. And in 2016, the [UNKNOWN] Lander launched by the European Space Agency and [UNKNOWN] Cosmos as part of the [UNKNOWN] program died in a fiery crash. First Mars giveth then Mars taketh away. But not everything up there died on impact. NASA's Viking One and Viking Two Landers operated on Mars for years While the Phoenix Lander confirmed the presence of water ice back in 2008. And then there's the Curiosity rover which is still traipsing around after landing in 2012. Quietly analyzing the surface and climate of Mars, and trying to determine whether the planet ever supported life. Not far from there, Mars' latest resident inside is quietly beveling away on its mission to drill further beneath the surface of Mars than we've ever been. So what's next? Well, after the failed Chaperelli mission in 2016, ESA and Los Cosmos are taking another crack with ExoMars 2020. The mission will launch a robotic rover complete with a built in drill Hopefully becoming the first mission to move across the surface of Mars, and study the planet at depth. And then there's NASA's Mars 2020 rover which is set to launch to the red planet in mid 2020. Based on the curiosity rover design, the rover will drill as soil rock samples. Test methods to turn the atmosphere into oxygen and search for subsurface water. Hopefully testing the waters quite literally for a future human expedition to the planet. If it doesn't die a fiery death first. All right, that's That's it for this weeks episode of Watch this Space. If you enjoyed what you've seen, then make sure you hit the like button on your remote. And subscribe and get more space news as it happens. I'm Claire Riley from CNET. Good night and God speed.

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