Mars Rovers Celebrate 10 Years on Red Planet

NASA’s twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have now spent 10 years on the surface of Mars.  Credit: NASA/JPL


Ten years ago today, NASA dropped the first of two rovers onto the surface of Mars, kicking off a wildly successful mission that continues to beam home data about the Red Planet and its wetter, warmer past.

NASA’s Spirit rover touched down on the night of Jan. 3, 2004 (Jan. 4 GMT), followed three weeks later by its twin, Opportunity. The two robots were originally supposed to explore Mars for 90 days, searching their disparate landing sites for signs of past water activity on the Red Planet.

Both rovers found plenty of such evidence and just kept chugging along, far outlasting their warranties. Spirit got stuck in a sand trap in 2010 and was declared dead a year later, but Opportunity continues to operate today and shows no signs of slowing down.

via 10 Years on Mars: NASA Rover Mission Celebrates 10th Martian Birthday |