Dear Reader, remember the remote-controlled Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity? How long is it since the last time you thought of them? Spirit landed on Mars four Earth years ago today, Opportunity on 25 January — and both are still going strong! These machines were originally meant to work for three months, yet they continue to trundle around that cold, distant planet, taking pictures and analysing rocks. Check out the project’s web site for news!

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  1. #1 Dave Briggs
    January 4, 2008

    This is great news! I think it has to be, at least in part, due to the very expensive solar panels they installed. I saw a shop about them that said they cost millions of dollars cuz they pick up and utilize more than one wave length of light. If we could only get them adapted for earth roving! LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  2. #2 Tobias
    January 4, 2008

    You just have to hand it to the engineers this time. They have done a super job. Of course, due to all the unknowns in their line of work, they probably had to aim for specs that would in theory allow an operational time of ten to twenty times the one they said they would actually deliver. Right now they are at sixteen, which is nothin short of amazing imho. But if you could get a hold of one of the designers and get a frank answer, I wouldn’t be surprised if he/she would simply state that the rovers are right on track…

  3. #3 Elf M. Sternberg
    January 4, 2008

    Actually, I keep an RSS feed of “the daily pic” from their websites, just to keep track. I remember watching the landing, and the thrill of those geeks as the first photos came up. I remember Opportunity’s software crash, and how another bug in the software helped them save it.

    Matt Golumbek once said he sold the mission to Congress “for three months” knowing the machines could possibly last a year. Somehow, I don’t think he expected them to be running four years later, though.

  4. #4 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    January 4, 2008

    Maybe they could work out a sponsorship deal with Eveready (the Energizer Bunny folks)

  5. #5 Martin R
    January 4, 2008

    Haha, yeah! I look forward to the day when there are rovers on Venus, Mercury and the largest moons too…

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