Good Night Oppy(documentary)
Director: Ryan White
Commentary from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Personnel
Composer: Blake Neely
Cinematography: David Paul Jacobson
Amblin Entertainment/Amazon Studios
Running Length: 104 Minutes
When the animated film “Wall-E” came out several years ago, audiences fell in love with the little robot who worked on a trash planet. He was lonely and gathered scraps of things to make a home for himself. The soundtrack was popular and “Wall-E” endures. Now, comes “Oppy,” about an automated space explorer who went to Mars compliments of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is the real item. Audiences are about to fall in love again with “Oppy” (pronounced Ah-Pea”, which is short for “Opportunity”) one of several land-rovers transported to Mars on enormous rockets and left there to do their work of surveying and photo-taking. A land rover looks like a cross between a skateboard and a periscope.
The normal battery-life expectancy for these land-rovers is from weeks to a few months at the most, but Oppy proved everyone wrong by staying alive—via battery---on Mars for 15 years. You read that right. Somewhere in the little Rover was beating a battery system that wouldn’t stop. The American moto if “never give up.” It took six months go get to Mars and along the way was a solar flare that threatened the trip, but the rocket held firm. When landing, Oppy woke up to either Abba music or “Born to be Wild.” Yes, the wild child is on her own. Discoveries include certain minerals that indicate underground water, sand storms actually can cleanse the outside of the vehicle.
This documentary, skillfully put together by Film Editors Helen Kearns and Rejh Cabrera and Visual Effects by Ivan Busquets, Abishek Nair, Marko Chuley and Steve Nichols, gives you what it was like to land on Mars, see your home planet way, way in the distance and begin your work to pave the way for human explorers. There are sand storms, getting stuck, and watching your compadres Endeavor and Spirit slowly pass away. After 15 years, Oppy had a broken shoulder and sent this last message: “My battery is low, and it’s getting dark.” Amen, Oppy, you didn’t know it, but the people at NASA were weeping. Their child, the birth of scientific knowledge on Mars, has gone to rest. Future young scientists are on the way.
Copyright 2022 Marie Asner