It’s not unusual for humans to want to commemorate an important moment or milestone with a tattoo. It’s also not unusual for people to not thoroughly check what they’re getting done before having it permanently inked onto their skin forever (we’re looking at you, Ariana Grande).
Which is exactly what one man did when we finally said goodbye to Opportunity, the little Mars rover that could, last week.
After 15 years on the Red Planet sending back vital data, NASA accepted that the rover had succumbed to the dust storm on Mars that had caused it to lose contact back in the summer.
The last message it sent back to Earth was the heartbreaking “My battery is low and it’s getting dark,” which is the message the unknown man got tattooed on his right shoulder, along with a picture of plucky old Opportunity.
Only, it’s not. That’s Curiosity.
And the Internet is not letting him live it down.
The photo of the tattoo was shared by Charles Finch on Twitter, who was quick to point out it wasn’t his tattoo, and to be kind to the person whose it is.
Not that that stopped people.
It may not be something a casual observer would notice, but if you’re into space exploration enough to get it tattooed on your back, you‘d think you know your rovers.
Although a couple of people did try to look on the bright side.
Opportunity, of course, is the rover with a 90-day mission that ended up lasting 15 years and won the hearts of the people (read the delightful obituary by Tom Whipple for The Times here). Launched in 2003, Oppy landed on Mars in January 2004 to roam around a bit, collect some data, and then probably die, buried under a dust storm that would block its solar panels thanks to Mars’ lack of protective atmosphere. Instead, it kept going right up to June 2018, when the fated dust storm, the biggest since its arrival, appeared.
With a heroic effort, on June 10, it used what would turn out to be the last of its battery power to send that fateful message – which science reporter Jacob Margolis, who first tweeted it, has clarified is a “poetic translation” of Oppy’s farewell.
Curiosity, on the other hand, is alive and well on Mars. Since arriving in 2012, its mission is to explore Gale crater and study the Martian climate and geology. Although Curiosity never met its older sibling, being 8,400 kilometers (5,200 miles) away, it sent its own farewell message to the plucky probe.
We're not crying, you're crying.
OK, none of us are crying, we're still laughing at the idiot who got the wrong rover tattooed for life.