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Mars NASA Space Science

'Opportunity' Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary Roving Mars 51

An anonymous reader writes "Ten years ago today, six and half months after launch, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's six-wheeled, solar-powered Opportunity rover landed on the surface of Mars, tumbling into a previously unknown feature now referred to as the 'Eagle Crater'. Opportunity and its twin Rover Spirit, which had arrived three weeks earlier, proceeded to crawl over and through plains, craters, and sand dunes, collecting and analyzing soil and rock samples, and taking panoramic photos of their surroundings, blowing orders of magnitude past the original projected 90 day mission timeframe. Spirit's mission drew to a close after it became irretrievably bogged down in soft soil in 2009; scientists lost contact with the rover in early 2010. Meanwhile, Opportunity is still going strong, with scientists announcing new evidence this past week of an ancient mild watery environment conducive to microbial life. Several web sites have mined the NASA archives to assemble tributes commemorating 10 years of work from Opportunity: Time,, Information Week/Techweb. There's also a bricks-and-mortar tribute; the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC has just opened an exhibit featuring photos sent by the two rovers."
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'Opportunity' Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary Roving Mars

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  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @09:59AM (#46066019) Journal
    The engineers thought the solar arrays would only generate power for 90 days, as evidence from earlier Mars explorations made them aware of a persistent dust problem they assumed would collect on the arrays' surface. The legendary winds on the planet proved the anti-Murphy, clearing dust accumulation regularly.
  • by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @10:24AM (#46066097) Homepage

    Why don't people just say "tenth anniversary" anymore?

    Probably because people forgot - or never learned - that the word "anniversary" contains the root "annus", meaning year. Thus, the word has become so degraded that people celebrate things like their "two month anniversary since when we first started dating". Therefore it has become necessary these days to specify how long is each "anniversary".

    It drives me nuts too, but you know that if you confront people about it they will just say, "language evolves."

  • by rueger ( 210566 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:18PM (#46066849) Homepage
    spending money on space exploration is a money pit, a drain on national coffers and more productive endeavors

    I'll assume that's a troll, but will say "bullshit" nonetheless. The US space program was a key driver in 60s and 70s technological development, and the spin-offs from that investment are pretty much incalculable.

    Of course in the current brain dead, uneducated, backwoods American political environment anything that smacks of "science" is considered evil and untrustworthy. (Canada too.)

    My prediction is that the Chinese will turn that investment in space into a couple of decades of profit and growth, and will do what the Americans never did - establish a toe-hold on at least the moon and turn that into a money maker and a prestigious accomplishment.
  • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:10PM (#46067151)
    It is unfortunate in some ways that you're modded down. This is the evidence [] for why there is no face on Mars: The other side of the coin is that seeing faces where there aren't any is an artefact [] of how your brain is wired up. Random natural formations (on any scale) stand a better chance than most people think of appearing as a face. This also extends to other objects, however, such as Jesus [], and [] genitals []. This one [] is really cool too.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama