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NASA's Opportunity Rover has died on Mars. The little solar-paneled robot apparently ran out of battery power during the Red Planet's awesome 2018 dust storm, and after one last attempt to contact it, NASA concluded yesterday (Feb. 13) that the far-off explorer is no more.
Which raises the question: What's going to happen to its body?
Artifacts - Science - Radiation - Tesla - Roadster
Many human artifacts wouldn't last very long beyond our protective biosphere. As Live Science reported previously, solar radiation has likely shredded the Tesla Roadster Elon Musk launched into space last year.
"R nought," a number used in the study of infectious diseases, approximates how many people on average can be infected by one sick person. For measles, that value is unusually high.
Jeff - Moersch - Professor - Science - University
Jeff Moersch, a professor of planetary science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a member of the Opportunity team, cautioned that he's not an expert in the rover's engineering. But he said that Opportunity does have some plastic bits that might eventually break down under the glare of the sun — its insulation, for example.
"But, by and large, I think it'll look pretty much as we left it," when and if astronauts ever do come across its resting place, Moersch told Live Science. It'll probably be pretty dusty, though, he added.
Astronauts - Mars - Century - Example
That's assuming that astronauts do make it to Mars in the relatively near future — the next century or two, for example.
Over much longer periods, Moersch said, dust will settle on the rover. Opportunity functioned as long as it did because regular Martian winds tended to...
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