Today marks the fifth anniversary of the landing of NASA’s Spirit on Mars. Its sibling, Opportunity, will celebrate five years on January 24th. Expected to last 90 days on the hostile Mars surface, as this article reminds us, they are still going strong and have been awoken after their winter hibernation.
Martian winds occasionally have cleared Spirit and Opportunity of suffocating dust, which was expected to coat their solar panels eventually and make them useless.
"So, that’s part of the reason: darn good engineering and a little bit of luck," [Phil] Christensen said.
Phil Christensen is a colleague here at ASU who is currently operating instruments on four probes roving or orbiting the planet. Wander on over to his website to find out more about the THEMIS, TES and MINI-TES instruments that are providing data on the Martian environment.