My Battery Is Low, and It’s Getting Dark


Image via NASA

Kera Morris, Editor-in-Chief

Image via Katie Mack/xkcd













The Opportunity Rover was only expected to last a few months on the alien surface of Mars, the red planet that’s our closest neighbor. It lasted instead over 14 years, surpassing its original best-by date by a dramatic margin.

Scientists and civilians alike are toasting the service of the plucky little robot, with more than a little bit of sorrow.

It’s a non-sentient marvel of science and engineering developed, designed, built, and sent to another planet by the brightest minds on our planet. It’s sent back huge numbers of photos and mounds of data, bringing untold amounts of knowledge.

Opportunity and its robotic brethren Spirit and Curiosity have been anthropomorphized and lionized; they’ve become heroes despite not being people… or alive at all.

Space exploration and travel have captured the human mind and spirit for hundreds of years, since before we even knew we would one day fly. And once we developed the ability to board a plane and jet from place to place, we embraced it with a fervor and wide-eyed wonder. For decades, flying was a ritzy and extraordinary event requiring your best clothing and demeanor, while perky stewardesses brought coffee and finger foods on china plates.

Today it’s a tiresome shuffle from being groped by a lackadaisical security force to waiting for your flight to be delayed another three hours. It’s pajama pants and flip-flops, paying $3 for a ginger ale and hoping your seatmate took a shower this month.

Space, though… that’s still romantic. It’s thrilling and hopeful and frightening. It’s eternity, a vast swath of emptiness that we’re such an insignificant part of, just a pale blue dot recognizable to no one but ourselves… as far as we know.

Since we don’t know, the best we can really do is send emissaries to explore on our behalf. Humans aren’t quite ready to make the voyage to Mars, so we build robots to trundle those alien sand dunes, mechanical extensions of ourselves that sing “Happy Birthday” to themselves and report that their batteries are powering down, and it’s getting dark.

@blindwire_art on Twitter












NASA made their final attempt to contact Opportunity on February 12th with a transmission of Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you.

Now, almost 40 million miles away, this piece of human determination and desire is perched silently in the red sands of Mars, waiting for us to come find it.

If we’re ever ready to go.

Goodnight, Opportunity.