'Like a rover in the wind': One Mars rover pays tribute to another on NASA Twitter account

Joel Shannon

On the same day that NASA declared the 15-year-old Mars rover Opportunity dead, the official Twitter account for the Curiosity Rover paid tribute to the older rover with a poem styled after Elton John's "Candle in the Wind."

Curiosity has been exploring Mars since 2012. Opportunity reached Mars with its identical twin Spirit in 2004. Opportunity far outperformed its initial mission: to operate as a geologist for just three months after reaching Mars.

Curiosity's Twitter account posted the tribute Wednesday:

It seems to me you lived your life

like a rover in the wind

never fading with the sunset

when the dust set in.

Your tracks will always fall here,

among Mars' reddest hills;

your candle's burned out long before

your science ever will.

The tweet concluded: "#ThanksOppy. I owe you so much.

Opportunity was declared dead after becoming caught in a massive dust storm in June. The storm lasted months, cutting off the rover's solar power and its contact with earth. It also was likely left vulnerable to bitter Martian cold. 

Scientists and engineers who work with the Mars rovers share a close bond with the machines. Some regard them almost like their own children.

The tweeted tribute was closely styled after Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," a 1973 tribute to Marilyn Monroe that was famously revised and performed at Princess Diana's funeral, CNN reports.

Opportunity roamed the red planet’s surface for an unprecedented 28 miles. It outlived its identical twin, which was declared dead in 2011.

Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Like a rover in the wind': One Mars rover pays tribute to another on NASA Twitter account