ABOVE AND BEYOND
We all know the children's tale of the little engine that could. Now we have a real-life story of the two rovers that could. The New York Times reports:
"NASA expected its two Mars rovers to survive only three months in the dusty and freezing Martian conditions. But Saturday was the five-year anniversary of the first robot’s landing.
The Mars rover Spirit landed on Mars on Jan. 3, 2004. The second, named Opportunity, landed 21 days later. During the past five years, the two rovers have traveled only about 13 miles while sending back a quarter of a million images of Mars.
Data from the rovers, including photos of sedimentary rocks, has proved that there was once water on the planet’s surface.
But the rovers have experienced quite a bit of wear and tear. Spirit has a jammed wheel, according to the BBC, and it must drive backwards. And Opportunity has a broken electrical wire, limiting movement on its robotic arm."
As Time magazine put it:
"So far, Spirit and Opportunity have beamed home a quarter of a million images and 36 gigabytes of data and revealed more about Martian history than any other spacecraft in a half-century of space travel. And by all indications, they could be keeping it up for a long time to come."
Here's hoping these two keep phoning home for a little while longer.