"Whatever loss we feel now must be tempered with the knowledge that the legacy of Opportunity continues - both on the surface of Mars with the Curiosity rover and InSight lander - and in the clean rooms of JPL, where the upcoming Mars 2020 rover is taking shape", said Zurbuchen.
"It's important to get back to the Moon as quickly as possible", he said, adding that he hoped astronauts would be sent to Earth's natural satellite by 2028, according to a news release.
"One of the most critical pieces of this plan [Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS)] is a small space station, called the Gateway, which NASA aims to start building in lunar orbit in 2022". He said the team members didn't even bother waiting around to see if word came back from space - they knew it was hopeless.
NASA plans to put American astronauts back on the Moon by 2028, with unmanned demonstration missions in 2024 and 2026, the USA space agency chief Jim Bridenstine has said. His "wish" is for the first flight to take place this calendar year, but his message was that the companies, not NASA, will set the schedule. "The magnitude is the worst ever that we've seen on the planet, going back to the 1970s". The otherworldly panoramas, which were taken with what were at the time the highest resolution cameras fitted to a planetary lander, captured by the two robots were widely shared online making them household names across the world. "If we have a ride in late 2019, we have instruments to fly".
NASA will also reveal where they intend to put the robotic probe, though it is most likely to stake out a claim on the same south polar region China and India are exploring. We hear about "rare Earth metals" - rare Earth metals are not Earth metals.
NASA wants their CLPS program to get going quick and get moving rapidly thereafter. The studies will examine elements including a transfer vehicle, descent stage and refueling system.
The agency published a solicitation on 7 February inviting USA companies to submit proposals to partner with NASA on designing and developing reusable lunar human landing systems (HLSs).
The studies are meant to fit into NASA's existing reference architecture, which has focused on three-stage landing systems involving a tug, descent stage and ascent stage. "But not just for a visit - to settle there", he said, referring to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. "It was an honorable end, and it came a whole lot later than any of us expected".
The team had dwindled to 30 by the time Opportunity went silent, he said.