Are we there yet? Mars rover nears crater
The yellow line in this image shows the path Opportunity has followed on the Martian surface.
June 10th, 2011
12:29 PM ET

Are we there yet? Mars rover nears crater

NASA's rover on Mars, Opportunity, is closing in on Endeavour crater. It has taken the rover nearly three years to travel 11 miles across the Martian terrain.

And you thought your grandpa drove slowly.

Opportunity will enter the crater at a spot named Spirit Point in honor of the rover's late partner. Spirit fell silent in March 2010, and its mission was terminated after one final attempt to communicate with it last month.

Both rovers completed their prime, three-month missions on Mars in April 2004, NASA said, but kept going (and going and going) with years of bonus work.

"Spirit achieved far more than we ever could have hoped when we designed her," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for the rovers. "This name (Spirit Point) will be a reminder that we need to keep pushing as hard as we can to make new discoveries with Opportunity."

The crater is still 2 miles distant, so Opportunity better keep an eye out for rest areas.

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Filed under: Science • Space • Technology
soundoff (495 Responses)
  1. Zippy

    Sounds like the rovers were over-engineered. If they're supposed to last x years, but they last 5x year, then you spent too much money building them.

    June 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bjkatcher

    My God! It's full of stars!

    June 10, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Deryk Houston

    I found Steven Squyres to have an extremely narrow and disappointing view when it came to space exploration. I had asked his team to use one of the rovers tracks to create a very simple line on the ground for the purpose of art. I had suggested that it would be very symbolic for mankind to go from cave walls to the surface of another planet. It would have taken a very short amount of time to do the wiggly line I had in mind. (The idea was an egg being fertilized-life on mars)
    I would not have minded being told that it just wasn't possible. Instead, I was given the very strong impression that I was a complete nut case. This was disappointing. I know that the idea was a bit of a stretch, that it was a bit of a crazy dream, but then I always thought that that was what it was all about when we reached out to the stars.
    I believe that science is important. But so is the creation of art. Some of the best science has been made by people who are creative and look at the world in a new way. I am writing this with the hope that there is some explorer out there who might want to include my simple art drawing in future rover missions.One small wiggly line the ends in a circle and then continues on about it's way with science .......... sending cute names of rocks back to earth as they are doing now. ( sorry...I can't help myself...I do know that they are also doing some great science...but mankind is so much more than that I think)

    June 11, 2011 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Igottagetalife

      You are a nut case.

      June 11, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I get your point but if I were you I would try to understand my own passion and then realize the people who built this craft...that is moving 3.66 miles a year...probably don't want to subject it to any movement other than what is being done to accomplish the mission. They are on Mars after all and all mistakes are unforgiving, if your wiggle broke a joint or screw there is no repairing that machine, mission over, probably broke down in your art track and everyone lost out.

      June 11, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • nick287

      Deryk, I am so glad you don't work for NASA. Those creative minds you are talking about were not day dreamers, they were scientists with creative minds. Let's not mix them together.

      June 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      You need to understand that every action performed by the rover carries risk to the mission and has been planned. Any action not directly related to that mission cannot even be considered.

      June 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Gardner

      Surprisingly, and in complete disagreement with the other replies, I think the idea to be outstanding. Much like the probes we've sent into the outer solar system with "humane" attributes such as representations of DNA and life on earth; this would be a testament that while it was a robot doing the work, it was a human doing the programming. Get the MRO to take a picture of the artwork and guess what happens – NASA gets a huge boost in public perception and appreciation.

      June 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agustus

      Did you stop taking your meds or you need a stronger dose?

      June 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Petrus


      June 12, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoNameRqrd

      You are a nut. This is science and technology. Not a time to be writing your graffiti on the surface of mars. Get a life!

      June 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • alpg49

      He has a point. We went to the moon, in part, to leave footprints. I don't support manned exploration of Mars, but I'm very glad we went to the moon in part, for the footprints! Science should be primary, but it isn't everything.

      June 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gandalf

    with all of the technology available to nasa couldn't they have picked a better colour than yellow to show the route?

    June 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lou50

    I understand all rest areas on Mars have been roped off like in Florida due to crime issues.

    June 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cvaughn

      Yes, all of those illegal rovers that have come to Mars. i guess we need more laws preventing them from crossing space to get to Mars. We need to protect the martian jobs.

      July 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beedy

    Like this Mars Rover news article is real. Get over it. They arent telling us where the rovers are REALLY going. OR what they REALLY are finding. There is allready ART up there!!!!!!!!!

    June 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
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