Mars Rovers Still Working After Six Years

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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 six Earth calendar years ago today, Opportunity on 25 January -- and both still work fine! Sadly, though, Spirit has been stuck on the edge of a small dust-filled crater since May last year, one set of wheels inside and one outside the crater. Its future looks dim as the Martian winter approaches and it is in a poor position for continued solar power. But Oppy trundles on toward Endeavour crater, taking pictures and analysing rocks. In July it found a huge iron-nickel meteorite sitting on the Martian ground surface. Check out the project's web site for news!

Update 5 January: Check out this excellent overview from the Planetary Society of currently active missions in the solar system and launches planned for 2010.

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How long is it since the last time you thought of them?

Why, just yesterday, in fact. :)

I have two computers named after them, so they aren't necessarily far from my mind :-) (The computer I'm typing on right now is called galileo, and my Linux box is huygens.)

In terms of 'bang for the buck' those little rovers have been very good investments. The smaller end of big science has a lot going for it.

Salute.