Monday 18 March 2019

Scientist gets tattoo showing Opportunity rover’s final reading from Mars

Nasa’s rover was pronounced dead after 15 years on Mars.

By Emily Chudy and Max McLean, Press Association

A scientist who worked with Nasa’s Opportunity rover has honoured the fallen robot with a tattoo showing its final reading.

Opportunity was officially declared dead by the US space agency after it became caught in a severe dust storm on Mars, having spent 15 years on the planet.

Keri Bean from Schertz, Texas, is a mission operations engineer and worked as a tactical uplink lead for Opportunity. When the end of the mission was in sight, she committed to her inky tribute.

“When we first lost contact several team members joked about getting matching tattoos when ‘Oppy’ came back,” Ms Bean told the Press Association.

“I decided that either when ‘Oppy’ came back or when the end of mission was declared, I would get a tattoo to honour ‘Oppy’.

“I chose her final observation, tau = 10.8. Tau stands for atmospheric optical depth, and is the variable being solved for in the equation. I studied tau in my undergrad and graduate career, so it was a perfect fit.”

Ms Bean posted to Twitter about her tattoo, writing: “Clearly 90% of the meaning is Oppy. But the other 10% is symbolizing my own personal ‘dust storm’ of last year.”

Plenty have mourned the loss of ‘Oppy’. The solar-powered rover was only expected to travel 1,000 metres on Mars, but amassed 28 miles and delivered on the search for evidence regarding water.

However, for Ms Bean the effect on the team back on Earth has been the more difficult aspect of Opportunity’s demise to deal with.

“She (Opportunity) lived a good life and lived so much longer than expected,” she said. “What has been heartbreaking is knowing the team is scattering.

“They’re like a family to me, and we’ll never quite have that experience again.”

But while the loss of the rover marks the end of an era, Ms Bean has found solace in the public’s reaction to the news.

“I’m extremely happy to see others also reacting to ‘Oppy’ with the same love and affection that I have,” she said.

“I’m honoured to have been a small part of a team that made Mars an everyday place for humanity.”

Press Association

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