[Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M University.] They’ve said farewell to Phoenix [but they’re still keeping an eye on it – Ed] and delayed the next mission there until 2011 but NASA still have two operational exploration rovers on Mars. And on the 5th anniversary of their arrival on the planet, with all the extra data adding significantly to our understanding of the history of that world, they have new plans ahead for Spirit and Opportunity. Nasa video here.
“We keep setting the bar higher for what these rovers can do,” said Frank Hartman, a JPL rover driver. “Once it seemed like a crazy idea to go to Endeavour, but now we’re doing it.” [Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for the rover science instruments] said, “The journeys have been motivated by science, but have led to something else important. This has turned into humanity’s first overland expedition on another planet. When people look back on this period of Mars exploration decades from now, Spirit and Opportunity may be considered most significant not for the science they accomplished, but for the first time we truly went exploring across the surface of Mars.”