A massive dust storm on Mars is threatening the life of NASA’s Opportunity rover, but the robot’s discoveries — and endurance — have already etched Opportunity’s name into the history books according to former NASA Chief Technologist and Cornell University aerospace engineering professor Mason Peck.
Cornell professors, researchers and students designed, built and outfitted Opportunity’s scientific instruments and mission accoutrements. Since Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004, the Cornell MER Team has analyzed the extensive data returned from the rovers and have provided new research insight in the composition of Mars and the possibility of water on the red planet. More information is available here.
“The Opportunity rover has proven to be extraordinarily resilient in the harsh environment of Mars. It has far outlived its original design life of 90 days and has returned vast quantities of science that have rewritten the textbooks. Every additional day it survives extends our knowledge about the solar system and our place in it.
“If this impending storm proves to be the last one that Opportunity weathers, the mission will still have been a resounding success. Keep in mind that, unlike what we saw in the movie The Martian, winds on Mars don't produce much force. Dust covering the solar panels and obscuring instruments is likely the most substantial risk.”