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NASA Mars Exploration Program
Mars Exploration Program

Mars Opportunity & Spirit Rovers: Mission Overview

Spirit & Opportunity Highlights


Mars Exploration Rovers Mission Overview

Mars Exploration Rovers Mission OverviewThe goal for these twin robot geologists is to search for clues in rocks and soil that hold clues to past water activity on Mars. Water is key to life as we know it on Earth.

Finding Rocks Altered by Water

Finding Rocks Altered by WaterSpirit and Opportunity, found many rocks and soil altered by water.

Rovers Long Exceed Their 3-Month Missions!

Rovers Long Exceed Their 3-Month Missions!Their mission was to last three months but each rover worked for several years. Opportunity is still going strong!

Spirit Lands at Gusev Crater

Spirit Lands at Gusev CraterSpirit landed inside Gusev Crater on a flat plain pocked with small craters and loose rocks.

Finding Volcanic Rocks

Finding Volcanic RocksThere, Spirit found dark rocks from a volcanic explosion and little evidence of a watery past.

Spirit Heads for the Hills!

Spirit Heads for the Hills!Spirit then headed for Columbia Hills, a range of hills on the horizon where rocks might have come from an earlier and wetter era.

Driving With Busted Wheel Yields a Discovery!

Driving With Busted Wheel Yields a Discovery!Driving while dragging a wheel, Spirit plowed up a hidden deposit of nearly pure silica. This indicates that the site once had hot springs or stream vents, which are environments that, on Earth, teem with microbial life.

Spirit Gets Stuck After Completing Primary Mission Many Times Over

Spirit Gets Stuck After Completing Primary Mission Many Times OverIn June 2009, Spirit became stuck in a patch of fine-grained material and was unable to move after a second wheel stopped working.

Spirit Ceases to Communicate with Earth

Spirit Ceases to Communicate with EarthSpirit was unable to survive the long winter, and no further communication was received from the rover. Both rovers have been very successful and lived way beyond anyone’s expectations. Opportunity is still going!

Opportunity Lands at Meridiani Planum

Opportunity Lands at Meridiani PlanumOpportunity landed on a flat region named Meridiani Planum, where Mars Odyssey spotted the mineral hematite, which often forms in the presence of water.

Opportunity Hits the Jackpot Early!

Opportunity Hits the Jackpot Early!The rover lands close to a thin outcrop of rocks and finds evidence that a body of salty water deep enough to splash in once flowed gently over the area.

Opportunity Finds More Water Evidence

Opportunity Finds More Water EvidenceAt Endurance Crater, Opportunity found rock layers that had been soaked in water.

Racking Up the Miles on the Odometer

Racking Up the Miles on the OdometerIn 2008, Opportunity set for Endeavour Crater, where orbiters had seen clay minerals that form in water. With some 21 miles (34 km) on her odometer, Opportunity finally reached the rim of Endeavour Crater.

Clay Minerals

Clay Minerals