Having now traversed 34 kilometres (21 miles) across the surface of Mars and exceeding it's 90-day mission to explore Mars by 2,830 days, NASA's Opportunity rover turned 8 years old today. So what's the feisty martian robot been up to lately? It's now exploring the rim of the 14-mile-wide Endeavor crater, discovering "slam-dunk" evidence that water once flowed through underground fractures, and is being strategically positioned at a 15-degree angle for a long winter suntan.
Real robot drama is happening on Mars today. Spirit, racing for her life to find shelter before winter, injured and underpowered after four years of hard labor, may have made her most significant find yet. The broken foot she's dragged behind her for the past two years unexpectedly uncovered evidence of a once-wet Mars with conditions theoretically hospitable for primitive life.
Free at last, free at last, thank Mars almighty Opportunity is free at last. After a several week long struggle, the Mars Opportunity Rover is free from the sand trap many across the world had predicted would bring it to an end.
With all this talk of wars in distant countries, it's easy to forget that there's exciting things going on just 300 million km from your back porch. NASA has provided 90 second videos of the first 90 sols of the Spirit [5MB .mov] and Opportunity rovers [5MB .mov].
Mars, take II - Still no word from Beagle 2 (discussed here), unfortunately, as Mars maintains its tough reputation. However, the first of two rovers much larger than 1997's very successful Pathfinder is expected to hit the Martian surface with a giant bounce tonight at 8:35 p.m. PST. Check out the realistic simulation videos of how it will land and get to work, then watch Nasa TV (RealVideo) for live coverage.