Scientist gets tattoo showing Opportunity rover’s final reading from Mars
Nasa’s rover was pronounced dead after 15 years on Mars.
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.
1/ #ThanksOppy This tattoo means more to me than just Oppy. Of course, the biggest significance is this is Oppy’s final measurement. I studied tau (atmospheric optical depth) as a student researcher. Don’t worry, I consulted my advisor on the value before committing to the ink pic.twitter.com/vhShtDBR3Z— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) February 13, 2019
“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.”
2/ Oppy means a lot to me. It was an honor to serve as a scientist and an engineer for her, ever since August 2007. Sol 1277 was my first, just as we were exiting the last global dust storm. Sol 4193 was my first shift as a JPLer, my one and only when we still had Flash memory— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) February 13, 2019
3/ I really believed Oppy would come back from this dust storm. But alas, Mars took her in the end. I feel guilty that I had joked as a rover driver trainee, I'd turn her into a storm chaser. I did chase storms while I was a meteorology student, after all.— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) February 13, 2019
4/ The team blamed me for the dust storm. Exactly two weeks before the dust storm started, I got my one and only Rover Planner shift where I was in the hot seat. I put the RAT on the surface and brushed a Mars rock. So obviously whole butterfly effect, etc.— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) February 13, 2019
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.
5/ Anyway, back to the tattoo. Clearly 90% of the meaning is Oppy. But the other 10% is symbolizing my own personal "dust storm" of last year. I was on the science operations team for Dawn, which completed her mission on Halloween. I had to do a lot for the end of mission...— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) February 13, 2019
6/ ...and cover for a colleague fighting cancer. Dawn is the project that hired me at JPL, so it was rough to lose her as well, even though she was very successful. I also went through a divorce which finalizes next week. It was a ROUGH last ~6 months of 2018 for me.— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) February 13, 2019
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.”
7/ While Oppy may not have made it out of her dust storm, I made it out of mine. And that is worth the permanent mark on my arm. To remember in the darkest hour, the sun will come back out eventually.— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) February 13, 2019
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.”