Mars rovers mark 5th year on planet

by Anonymous on Jan. 03rd, 2009

Opportunity has knocked: And is now moving elsewhere to gather more data about Mars.
Opportunity has knocked: And is now moving elsewhere to gather more data about Mars.Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
This month the two Mars rovers – Opportunity and Spirit – celebrate their fifth anniversary on the Red Planet. Back in January 2004 the two robotic explorers landed within three weeks of each other on opposite sides of the Martian surface, and have spent the last five years investigating its craters, rock outcrops, and soils for signs of water. The data collected has shown conclusively that water once existed on the planet’s now arid surface.

Incredibly, the two robots have far surpassed their original predicted life-spans of three months operating in Mars' hostile environment.

"We realize that a major rover component on either vehicle could fail at any time and end a mission with no advance notice,” said John Callas, project manager at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “But on the other hand, we could accomplish the equivalent duration of four more prime missions on each rover in the year ahead."

BBC website story

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