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Goodnight Oppy drops on Amazon Prime today. Here's a quick look at the beloved Mars Opportunity Rover

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulNov 23, 2022 | 09:00

Goodnight Oppy drops on Amazon Prime today. Here's a quick look at the beloved Mars Opportunity Rover

Goodnight Oppy, the Steven Spielberg-produced documentary was acquired by Amazon Studios following its first screening at the 2022 Telluride Film Festival. We take you through the life and legacy of Opportunity and its journey across the Mars horizon.

Written and directed by Ryan White, the film tells the story of Opportunity - affectionately nicknamed Oppy - a Mars rover launched in 2003 that originally was expected to operate for only 90 sols (the Mars equivalent for days) but explored Mars for nearly 15 years. The film features archival and interview footage with scientists and engineers, and recreations of the rover's treks over the Martian landscape in search of water.

Here's the trailer for the documentary:

The film is narrated by Wakanda Forever’s Queen Ramonda herself, Angela Bassett, with visual effects work from Industrial Light & Magic (the company that brought you Star Wars) and archival footage provided by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Here’s a bit more about little Oppy…

Originally intended to last 90 days, Oppy ended up crawling more than the distance of a marathon. At the time of its death, the rover's odometer read 45.16 kilometres.

Contrary to popular belief, Oppurtunity was much larger than people believe it to be. If you were under the impression that Oppy was about the size of a dog, here's a surprise - Oppurtunity was closer in size to a golf cart.

The Mars Exploration Rover Family Photo. Photo: NASA

Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, were developed as part of NASA's Mars exploration program and followed a brief legacy of prominent missions to the Red Planet including the first Mars orbiter, Mariner 9; the first Mars landers, Viking 1 and Viking 2; and the first Mars rovers, Sojourner and Pathfinder.

The Mars Exploration Rovers received their names from 9-year-old Sofi Collis who was the winner of a naming contest NASA held. 

"I used to live in an orphanage. It was dark and cold and lonely. At night, I looked up at the sparkly sky and felt better. I dreamed I could fly there. In America, I can make all my dreams come true. Thank you for the 'Spirit' and the 'Opportunity.'"
- Sofi Collis in her winning essay

The Mars Exploration Rovers launched in 2003, with Opportunity on July 7, followed by Spirit on June 10. They embarked on a 800 million journey across 455.4 million to hunt for water on Mars.

According to NASA, the major goals of the two rovers were to determine whether life as we know it could ever have arisen on Mars and to characterize the climate and geology of Mars. The information these rovers collected would be enhanced with observations from orbit and would inform future missions to the Red Planet.

One of Opportunity's greatest scientific findings was confirming the presence of standing water on Mars for long periods. The rover also uncovered the presence of hematite, gypsum and other rocks on Mars that tend to form in water on Earth, and also found evidence of ancient hydrothermal systems. 

Oppy also demonstrated the possibility to operate a rover for more than a decade on another planet and generated an immense scientific legacy that helped with the work of NASA's still-active Curiosity rover.

“With this mission, more than other robotic missions, we have made that human bond, so saying goodbye is a lot harder. But at the same time, we have to remember this phenomenal accomplishment—this historic exploration we've done. I think it'll be a long time before any mission surpasses what we were able to do.”
- John Callas, the Project Manager for the Mars Exploration Rovers mission

Due to the planetary 2018 dust storm on Mars, Opportunity ceased communications on June 10 and entered hibernation on June 12, 2018.  On February 13, 2019, NASA officials declared that the Opportunity mission was complete, after the spacecraft had failed to respond to over 1,000 signals sent since August 2018.

An interpretation of Oppy’s last data transmission before going to sleep went viral over the internet, with people across the world bawling their eyes out upon hearing the rover’s final words,

This was the reported to be the last known photograph captured by Oppy from sol 5,111

Oppy looks up at the stars

Learn more about Opportunities incredibly adventurous 14 years on the Red Planet as Goodnight Oppy drops today, November 23, 2022, on Amazon Prime.

Last updated: November 23, 2022 | 09:00
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