Opportunity’s 10 years on Mars
The 23rd of January 2014 marked Opportunity her 10 years on Mars.
Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time (Jan. 24, 2004, PST) for a mission that was planned to last three months. It is still active 10 Earth years later. While engineers designed Opportunity and its now-defunct twin, Spirit, to rove about six-tenths of a mile during their three-month design lives, Opportunity has now covered about 24 miles during some 3,500 days on Mars, snapping more than 170,000 images along the way.
In a paper published in Science magazine, Opportunity researchers outline recent findings that appear in line with an emerging picture of Mars as a world that started out with a warmer, wetter, clearly habitable environment. But about three billion years ago, a dramatic case of climate change turned the planet into the cold, dry world seen today.
Opportunity’s life on Mars has begun at its landing site nearby Endurance Crater. From there she continued to travel to Victoria Crater and more recently she reached the rim of the much larger Endeavour Crater. Its next objective is to climb a steep slope to a section of the rim known as Cape Tribulation. The trek could take up to two years, assuming Opportunity stays healthy.
Opportunity’s solar arrays are partly covered by dust which can be easily seen in the image gallery below. Let’s hope that everything will go smoothly and Opportunity will stay alive and will be communicating with Earth for the next months and years. Congratulation Opportunity and JPL on your first 10 years on Mars!
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