Still Rovin’ After All These Years…Amazing!
January 25, 2004: Opportunity Lands on Mars
Opportunity, MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B), is a robotic rover active on the planet Mars since 2004. Launched on July 7, 2003, Opportunity landed on Mars’ Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004 at 05:05 Ground UTC (about 13:15 Mars local time), three weeks after its twin Spirit (MER-A), also part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Mission, touched down on the other side of the planet.
While Spirit became immobile in 2009 and ceased communications in 2010, Opportunity remains active as of 2013, having already exceeded its planned 90 sol (Martian days) duration of activity by 8 years, 273 days (in Earth time). Opportunity has continued to move, gather scientific observations, and report back to Earth for nearly 35 times its designed lifespan.
Mission highlights include the initial 90 sol mission, finding extramartian meteorites such as Meridiani Planum, and over two years studying Victoria crater. It survived dust-storms and reached Endeavour crater in 2011, which has been described as a “second landing site”.