Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The little rovers that could...

have performed far beyond expectations as their five year anniversary on Mars is upon us.

NASA's twin robot geologists, the Mars Exploration Rovers, launched toward the red planet on June 10 and July 7, 2003, in search of answers about the history of water on Mars. They landed on January 3 and January 24 PST, 2004.

Spirit, the first to land at Gusev Crater, is listed in "serious but stable condition" since dust collecting on its solar panels is limiting power generation. Opportunity is healthy, exploring the plains of Meridiani Planum, but is experiencing a "post-solar conjunction hangover" following a short communications blackout while Mars passed behind the Sun. It just needs to transmit a lot of accumulated data back to Earth.

You can follow the on-going mission here:

Mars Exploration Rover Mission

Shameless self promotion: I will be presenting an illustrated lecture in early April at Spokane Community College about the geology of Mars. The lecture is free and open to the public (see the Calendar sidebar to the right for date and time.)

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