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Mars Opportunity Rover: 9 years of exploring and still in good health !

NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover was quietly celebrating a big milestone on last Thursday: nine years on the surface of the Red Planet, and still working like on the first day! This longevity is all the more impressive considering its original mission which was only supposed to last three months.

When the six-wheel, solar-powered rover landed on Mars the night of Jan. 24, 2004 PST (just after midnight EST on Jan. 25), only three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down, mission managers at NASA said they would be pleased if it lasted for 90 days. Instead, it’s been 3,201 days, and still counting and driven.


What’s most important is not how long it has lasted or even how far it has driven, but how much exploration and scientific discovery Opportunity has accomplished,” said JPL’s John Callas, manager of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project. In a few months, Callas said, Opportunity will head to an area nicknamed Cape Tribulation. The clay there could be rich in the minerals suggestive of past life.

They haven’t done much to mark the ninth anniversary or the 3,200th Martian day, just a get-together earlier this week during a previously scheduled science conference. After that, Callas said, it was back to work.
It’s like keeping your car going,” he said, “without ever having a chance to change the oil.”

For more information about Opportunity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov .

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