Over a year ago, in April 2006 I marveled at the longevity of the two Martian rovers, and wondered if they would make it through the Martian winter. They are both still alive and still working, although Spirit has a nickname of “lame spirit” from the dragging right front wheel. Here’s what Stuart Atkinson said earlier in the month:
I’m proud of them and all they’ve achieved, those plucky, apparently immortal machines. They arrived on Mars all those years ago so bright and so shiny, their clean metalwork flashing in the Martian sun as they emerged like aluminum butterflies from their cocoons. Now they’re weary and worn, and each day they wake seems like a miracle. Oppy is still in pretty good shape as she works her way around the serrated rim of Victoria Crater, but on the other side of Mars my poor gal Spirit is suffering. Smothered in Sun-dimming, circuit-clogging dust and dragging a frozen wheel behind her as she hauls herself around Homeplate, she’s on borrowed time and she knows it.
In a new mission for Opportunity, it will descend into Victoria crater to investigate the shiny ring about the crater, and scientists hope the examination of the strata of the crater wall will give us many more clues about the mantle of planet Mars. Once in however, opportunity could become trapped, a case of opportunity lost.