Rest in peace: Opportunity the Mars rover


Alexys Sciatto '19, Reporter

“My battery is low and it’s getting dark,” were the last words transmitted from the Mars rover named Opportunity before it passed away.

On Feb 13, 2019, after more than 14 years of wandering and collecting data and photos on Mars, the robot passed away. A dust storm invaded the skies of Mars last summer in June. The dust storm blocked the rover’s solar panels, making Opportunity unable to generate enough power to keep it “alive”. The storm had silenced Opportunity for months on end, NASA tried many times to contact the rover but received no messages confirming that they were received by the robot.

During the rover’s final days, NASA played music in the hopes that it would react to it, therefore waking up. You can find a playlist of what they played on Spotify called “Opportunity, Wake Up!”. The last song it heard, the last message it heard at all, was Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You”.

Opportunity first landed on Mars on Jan 24, 2004. It was supposed to last for only 90 days, but it demolished that set lifespan by going 5,111 days on Mars. In those 5,111 days, Opportunity was able to travel over 28 miles, going 0.1118 mph, and photographed and returned over 217,000 images of the planet.

“I cry every night,” said senior Rose Hughes on her verbally ironic thoughts of the rover’s passing.

This heartbreaking news saddened everyone, from high school students to the scientists of NASA.

But why are people so upset at the “death” of an object that can’t truly die?

Why do we care so much about inanimate objects?

People tend to give human like qualities to nonhuman things. Robots are given personalities. People keep junk for the sake of memories and emotional value. Just take a look at the show Hoarders. Robots are given the same treatment. We give our objects names, genders, personalities, etc.

What’s the first thing someone does when they get a car? They come up with a name.

There are multiple students who have given their cars names, personalities, back stories, made up people whom they believe to have driven the car before the student got the car, etc.

We form connections with our machines. I have thanked Siri many times when following maps on my phone.

Could this unnecessary bonding with machines lead to their takeover?

When people picture what a robot takeover would look like, they think of machines working with force. But what if the population lets them?

Our robots have jobs already. Who’s to say robots won’t be built for jobs that would put them in charge of us? They’d be technically perfect for the role. They would poll the people and form opinions based on that, thus becoming literally the voice of the people.

More so than any person could be. Who wouldn’t vote for that after hearing a far better salesman than I pitch a charming and honest robot to the public?

We’ll make sure their batteries will be full, and then we’ll be in the dark.