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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mars Landers Celebrate 4 Years On Surface

The Mars Lander "Spirit" celebrated it's 4th anniversary on the surface of the Red Planet yesterday and it's twin "Opportunity" will do the same on January 24th, not bad for missions that were expected to last in the neighborhood of 3 months each! "These rovers are incredibly resilient considering the extreme environment the hardware experiences every day," said John Callas, project manager for Spirit and Opportunity at Nasa's Jet Propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"We realise that a major rover component on either vehicle could fail at any time and end a mission with no advance notice, but on the other hand, we could accomplish the equivalent duration of four more prime missions on each rover in the year ahead."

The 4 years of service have not been easy on the rovers though, Spirit must drive backwards everywhere it goes because of a jammed wheel; while Opportunity's robotic arm suffers from a glitch in a shoulder joint because of a broken electrical wire.

Source: BBC News