NASA Mars rover Spirit reaches a milestone no one expected on 3 Jan 2014, a record 10 years on the Red Planet, and rover Opportunity reaches the same milestone on 24 Jan 2014.
The designers did not expect the rovers to function in the harsh Martian conditions for more than three months, but Spirit went on beaming back data that sheds light on Mars until trapped in sand in Mar 2010, and Opportunity is still going strong.
NASA plans a celebration for milestone in January, and the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum opens a Spirit and Opportunity exhibit on Jan 3 in its building on the National Mall in Washington DC.
On 5 Aug 2012 Spirit and Opportunity were joined on the Red Planet by car-sized Curiosity. The third NASA Mars rover is aimed at determining if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.
Date written/update: 2013-11-20