We all have that one thing that has far exceeded our expectations of implied lifespan. Whether it is that one T-shirt that you have had for 25 years, or that CD despite thousands of scratches, still plays its songs crystal clear; we all have those things that we are thrilled with their persistence.
NASA then must be ecstatic because the Opportunity rover has not only succeeded in surviving on another planet, but it has done so now for 12 years. What is even more incredible is that it has done so when its initial lifespan was projected to be 90 days.
This last weekend marked the rover’s 12 year on Mars, during which it has clocked in nearly 27 miles of travel. This is the new record for distance covered on a foreign planet, a record which was shattered nearly 2 years previously.
Opportunity has succeeded in outliving its partner which survived for “only” 6 years on Mars. The other rover succumbed because while trapped in a sandy pit, its solar panels became covered which eventually led to a loss of power.
This solar powered robot is however showing its age. While the software is constantly being updated and improving the system, the hardware is slowly degrading.
The best part is that after 12 years of Martian soil and wind, Opportunities’ solar panels that give it life still continue to power it! Solar on Mars really is the way to go!