According to NASA's budget documents, no money is allocated by the White House for Opportunity mission in it's proposed federal budget for the fiscal year 2016 and that bringing signal to an end of a mission that has been exploring Mars for more than 11 years.
But NASA has not officially canceled Opportunity or Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which finds itself in the same budgetary situation — NASA Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski told reporters during a press conference.
"We will look at continuing the operation of those activities, and finding ways to fund them, if in fact they actually are operational by 2016, and the science value does make sense," Radzanowski said.Indeed, neither Opportunity nor LRO were allocated funds in the White House's fiscal year 2015 budget request, but money has been found to keep both missions going, he added.
It's also worth nothing that the 2016 federal budget proposal is just that a proposal. Final funding for NASA and other federal agencies must still be approved by Congress.
Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, touched down on Mars a few weeks apart in January 2004, and were tasked with three-month missions to search for signs of past water activity on the Red Planet. Both rovers found plenty of such evidence, which helped to reshape scientists' understanding of Mars and its history.
Spirit stopped communicating with Earth in March 2010 and was declared dead in 2011. Opportunity remains active; it has been exploring the rim of 22 kilometers wide Endeavour crater since August 2011.
Opportunity is showing some signs of age, as it recently began experiencing problems with its flash memory, which allows the rover to store information even when the power is off.
Opportunity has traveled 26.02 miles (41.88 km) on Mars — farther than any other vehicle has gone on the surface of another world. The previous record of 24.2 miles (39 km) was set by the former Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 moon rover in 1973.