Steve Squyres, principal investigator of the rovers' science payload at Cornell University, praised Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, which lasted 2,210 Martian days, for detailing Mars' previously unknown past.
NASA's Opportunity, the Mars rover that was built to operate for just three months but kept going and going, was pronounced dead Wednesday, 15 years after it landed on the red planet. None had been answered.
Asked later in the briefing whether either of the Mars Exploration Rovers might one day be retrieved to place in a museum, Squyres noted that huts from the early exploration of Antarctica, more than a century ago, have been preserved there.
"It brought us to last night, and we sent our final commands, and we heard nothing", he said. But no response came, prompting NASA to conclude that she remains asleep, and her mission can now be honored as a resounding success.
"It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our fearless astronauts walk on the surface of Mars", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
NASA hopes to take humans to Mars by the 2030s.
Opportunity discovered that Mars had an ancient climate that may have sustained life, and worked on the surface of Mars for 14 years, longer than any other robot.
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Together with Spirit, the rover helped NASA better understand our celestial neighbor.
However, as the photo shows it moving into the Endurance Crater - aptly named given the circumstances - it carried on for a total of more than 5,300 Martian days, having travelled more than 45km by the time it reached its even more appropriately named resting place, Perseverance Valley.
Its final blow came following a severe Mars-wide dust storm that blanketed its location. Opportunity, which relied on sunlight to charge its batteries and keep its electronics warm, went to sleep as a protective measure against the prolonged period of darkness. With dust covering its solar panels, Opportunity went silent.
In August, NASA caused an outcry after setting a 45-day deadline before it would declare "Oppy" dead.
The most obvious candidate to rescue Opportunity is the Curiosity rover, Opportunity's bigger, nuclear-powered younger sibling.
Opportunity was the fifth of eight spacecraft to successfully land on Mars so far, all belonging to NASA. The final attempt to contact Opportunity was made on February 12.
Three more landers - from the U.S., China and Europe - are due to launch next year.
Project manager for Opportunity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, John Callas, said it was a "testament a magnificent machine of exploration" and the dedicated team behind it.
A selfie of the Mars Curiosity rover. Their legacy, he said, will live on with the enthusiasm and support for not only Curiosity, now exploring Mars, but the upcoming Mars 2020 mission as well.