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A NASA rover celebrates eight years on the Martian surface today (Jan. 24), and the long-lived robot is still going strong. The Opportunity rover landed on the Red Planet at 9:05 p.m. PST Jan. 24, 2004 (12:05 a.m. EST Jan. 25), three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down. While NASA declared Spirit dead last year, Opportunity continues to gather data in its dotage, helping scientists understand more and more about Mars' wetter, warmer past. "It is amazing. I have to remind myself — my God, this thing is still going!" said John Callas, Opportunity's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "But more importantly, it is still very productive on the surface."
Following the water Spirit and Opportunity were originally supposed to spend 90 days searching for signs of past water activity on Mars. The solar-powered robots found plenty of such evidence at their disparate landing sites, dramatically reshaping scientists' understanding of the Red Planet and its history.
Originally posted by Illustronic
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
They have improved plans, no need to build more of those tiny limited things.
The key component in the new Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' is its nuclear radioisotope power source which leads to;
• Continuous operation even in the absence of or low light limiting the solar powered rover of past.
• Heat from the power source cycled through the new curiosity's instruments extending expected life, eliminating varying temperature extremes.
• Plaguing the little rovers were all operations had to cease during traversing and transmitting of data.
• Curiosity is able to have 10x the science instrumentation
• The rate of plutonium decay could provide power to Curiosity for 88 years
• No worries about sand or abrasion effecting Curiosity's power source, unlike the concerns of possible damage to solar panels.
• JUNO's mission to orbit the Jovian system will mark the furthest from the sun a solar powered craft has ever functioned, thanks largely to 3 huge 9 by 30 feet solar panels, unthinkable for any rover to have or operate from.
Just to name a few.
January 24, 2012 Eight years after landing on Mars for what was planned as a three-month mission, NASA's enduring Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is working on what essentially became a new mission five months ago.
Originally posted by Wrabbit2000
reply to post by Illustronic
Of course the rovers are limited, so...send many of them to get as much as can be had from this method of exploring. I'll bet there are many places on the surface of Mars that would be great to see up close with a rover like Opportunity.