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What About the Other Rovers on Mars?

Endeavour Crater on Mars
The Opportunity Mars rover at Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL)

While the headlines from the science world are coming from the Curiosity Mars rover, not much is being published about older rovers on the planet.

The trophy for the “Little Rover That Could” should go to Opportunity, which is now starting its 10th year on the red planet. It landed in a bouncing ball in 2004 and has been exploring a pretty wide area for such a little machine.

Right now, it’s on the edge of a fairly large crater called Endeavour, checking out rocks and sending back photos of the surrounding area (see photo). By the way, the photo we included here is a mosaic with true color on the close-up view and “false color” in the landscape with the blue tints highlighting differences between surface materials, such as the dark, sandy ripples on the crater’s floor.

It has taken photos and examined rock and soil along a route that is 22 miles long. Its twin, Spirit, climbed into some hills and got stuck in a sand pit, not allowing its solar panels to recharge. It stopped transmitting a few years ago.

Two other notes about the rover Opportunity. One of its front wheels (it has six) quit working, so the rover has been driving backwards most of the time. And, the expected lifespan of the rover was 10 months. Nine years later, aside from dust on the solar panels (see photo), the little guy is still in “good health,” as the scientists say.

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