Ten years ago today, the Spirit rover landed on Mars, kicking off 10 consecutive years (and counting) of NASA rovers on Mars. Spirit would go on to travel 4.3 miles in a mission that went way past the original nominal 90 sol* mission, finally perishing after becoming trapped in unstable soil in a poor position for outlasting the Martian winter. Last contact was on Sol 2,623. But Spirit wasn’t alone on Mars; its twin rover, Opportunity, landed January 25 and is still rolling today. And, of course, the Curiosity rover has since arrived on Mars as well, and it is entirely plausible that there will be a continuous rover presence on Mars beyond even the Curiosity mission — if the luck holds out. 😉
So, here’s to ten continuous years of Martian cruising!
* 1 sol = 1 Martian day, or 1.03 Earth days