Ten years ago today — July 8, 2003 — the “Opportunity” rover launched from Cape Canaveral on a Delta II rocket.
(Opportunity rover. NASA image.)
Following about a month behind the “Spirit” rover, launched on June 10th, and known officially as Mars Explorer Rover-B, Opportunity was bound for the Meridiani Planum on Mars. The rover landed on January 25, 2004, to begin what was supposed to be a 90-sol (90 Martian days, very nearly 90 Earth days) mission.
Opportunity is still working today.
While contact with Spirit was lost in March 2010, Opportunity has continued to operate on the Martian surface: a tremendous tribute to the scientists and engineers who designed it, the technicians who built it, and the operators who direct it and keep its software updated. Long may it roll.by