One of a set of twin Mars rovers, the other being Spirit (which stopped transmitting in 2010 after becoming stuck in 2009), Opportunity has been in continuous operation since January 25th, 2004. Originally intended only to operate for 90 Martian days, or Sols, Oppprtunity has now been gathering data for 3,240 Sols, 36 times longer than expected.
While Opportunity has proven to have an impressive lifespan, it was not built for speed. On average, it travels just under 1/2″ per second. Since touchdown 9 years ago, it has ventured a little over 22 miles.
Designed to collect a variety of geological data, Opportunity is equipped with a wide assortment of instruments, tools, and cameras.
Though it’s still going strong, Opportunity won’t be the last probe to explore Mars. Plans are underway for further missions to investigate the possibility that Mars once supported life.
As those new endeavours grow near, more scientists, technicians, and engineers will be called upon to assist in the efforts.
Maybe you can be one of them.