Mijlpaal voor Mars-missie

Nieuws | de redactie
9 februari 2010 | De robots ‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ zijn tegen alle verwachtingen in al zes jaar op Mars. De verwachte levensduur van de robots was bij aanvang van de missie in 2004 ongeveer een half jaar. NASA spreekt van een “major, against-all-odds mission achievement”.

Five and a half years after they were supposed to be history,the Mars Exploration Rovers celebrated their sixth Earth year onthe Red Planet with Opportunity pulling up to a fresh, new crateron the road to Endeavour, and Spirit working on repositioningitself to settle in for the coming Martian winter, and perhaps therest of its mission.

Spirit and Opportunity

Spirit arrived at Gusev Crater at 8:35 p.m. Pacific StandardTime (PST) January 3, 2004 as more than one billion peopleworldwide jammed online to “witness” the Internet’s biggest liveevent. Opportunity landed three weeks later on the plains ofMeridiani Planum at 9:05 p.m. PST January 24, 2004, and millionsmore people cheered in countries everywhere. “They are emissariesnot just of NASA or the United States, but the Earth,” SteveSquyres, MER principal investigator, of Cornell University, saidthen.

The rovers had flown into the Martian atmosphere and breezedthrough the six minutes of terror that followed, making it lookeasy and succeeding, against all odds, where most others beforethem had failed. Bouncing down onto the surface protected byairbags, they landed flawlessly and intact, Spirit upright andunscathed in amidst a jagged landscape, Opportunity rolling into acrater to score Earth’s first “300-million-mile hole-in-one.”

The twin robot field geologists got to work promptly seeking tofulfil the primary objective of finding evidence for past water ona mission designed to last for three months, and, if things wentreally well, six months max. After accomplishing their missionobjective, Spirit and Opportunity both roved on and on and on.

Voor videobeelden van ‘Spirit’ klikt u hier. Voor ‘Opportunity’ klikt u hier.

Met dank aan: The Planetary Society

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