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Opportunity Looks Back

December 16, 2010

This picture was taken by Mars rover Opportunity on Aug 11, 2010 where it is looking back it’s own tracks made on the surface of Mars. It has been an incredible journey for the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. They both started their journey in January 2004 when they first landed on Mars loaded with spectrometers, cameras and some tools to do some surface analysis. The whole project was planned to survive just for 90 Martian days or ‘sols”, but they outlived their lifetime and have surpassed the expectations of everyone. The aim of this project was to search for any possible conducive environment for life to exist in Mars. Since 2004, both the rovers have been sending incredible images almost everyday. After travelling about 7.73 kms and overcoming all the obstacles, Spirit finally said quits in January 2010. It’s still sending the signal but it’s not mobile anymore. While Spirit quit, Opportunity is still active and is sending images back to earth and performing some important scientific observations. Till date it has travelled 26.43 kms, survived 2450 Martian days or sols (as compared to 90 days) and is currently exploring Santa Maria crater (80 m diameter) and its next stop will be Endeavour crater which might be it’s final destination, or will it be? Both the rovers have surpassed our expectations many times and have overcome all the obstacles so Opportunity might be able to do that again this time and Endeavour crater might not be the final destination. Spirit and Opportunity have been like babies of the scientific community and scientists have been observing them, following them and have been watching their progress every day. Well done Spirit, Go Opportunity!!

PS: While I was writing this post, NASA’s orbitter Odyssey became the longest operating spacecraft on Mars breaking previously held record by Mars Global Surveyor. Odyssey was launched in 2001 and is still operating reaching 3,3340 days of operation on Dec 15,2010. It worked in concert with Spirit and Opportunity rovers for relaying information back to earth.

 Image and video Credit: NASA/JPL

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