Spirit & Opportunity
Spirit and Opportunity are twin rovers that were sent to explore Mars. They landed in 2004, and their mission was seeking evidence about whether Mars might once have been capable of supporting life.
- NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- United States 🇺🇸
- United States 🇺🇸
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Did You Know?
Their mission was scheduled to last 90 days, but Spirit survived for six years and Opportunity is still operational.
In 2009, Spirit became stuck on a sand trap, and attempts to drive the rover out of it failed.
As of May 2012, Opportunity had logged 34.4 km (21.35 miles) of driving on Mars, or nearly 60 times the original distance goal of just 600 meters.
Dust that accumulated on the rovers' solar panels gradually caused power problems, but sometimes passing Martian dust devils blow the panels clean.
The rovers traveled approximately 487 million km (303 million miles) to get to Mars from Earth.
They landed on the planet while encased in giant bouncy airbags.
- Capable of driving autonomously for short distances. Equipped with rocker-bogie suspension system (for rolling over big rocks).
- 150 cm | 59.1 in
- 160 cm | 63 in
- 230 cm | 90.6 in
- 180 kg | 396.8 lb
- 0.18 km/h | 0.1 mph (on flat, hard ground)
- Two panoramic cameras, two navigational cameras, two front hazard detection cameras, and two rear hazcams. Scientific instruments include: mini-thermal emission spectrometer (for detecting the mineral composition of surface features), microscopic imager (for capturing close-up views of rocks), Mossbauer spectrometer (for detecting iron-bearing minerals), Alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (for detecting the elements that make up rocks), and rock abrasion tool (the rover's equivalent of a geologist's rock hammer).
- 39 Maxon brushed DC motors
- Solar panels used to recharge two lithium-ion batteries
- BAE Systems 20-MHz 32-bit RAD6000 CPU (a radiation-hardened version of the PowerPC); on-board memory includes 128 MB RAM, 256 MB flash, and smaller amounts of other non-volatile memory.
- Custom software
- DEGREES OF FREEDOM (DOF)
- Core structure made of composite honeycomb material insulated with aerogel.
- $820 million (Total cost, including $645 million spacecraft and science instruments, $100 million launch, and $75 million mission and science operations.)
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) designed and built Spirit and Opportunity as part of its Mars Exploration Rover mission. Spirit and Opportunity launched on 10 June and 7 July 2003, respectively. Spirit landed on Gusev Crater (a possible former lake) on 4 January 2004; Opportunity landed at the Meridiani Planum (where mineral deposits suggest a wet past) three weeks later. JPL's Peter Theisinger was the Mars Exploration Rover project manager. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., was principal investigator for the Rovers' identical sets of science instruments.