The year was 2004. A very eventful year was going on for humans on planet earth.
Lance Armstrong won his 6th Tour de France.
Facebook is established at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Lenova purchases IBM‘s PC Business.
Dr Manmohan Singh elected as first Sikh President.
An earthquake kills 186,983 people in Southeast Asia.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” scoops up 11 Oscars at the Academy Awards.
Scientists in South Korea cloned 30 human embryos.
Exploration rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity” land on Mars
That is just a small accounting of the events impacting humanity throughout 2004. There was a lot of triumph and tragedy in this year. It would be easy for an unmanned mission to mars to get lost in the noise. After all who really cares about a short three-month mission for a couple of wheeled robots?
Flash back to the present and guess what? “Opportunity” is still going strong! Its older brother “Spirit” finally gone silent (last heard from in March of 2010). The little rover continues to traverse the planet amassing a tremendous amount of scientific data in what has become one of the greatest success stories of human exploration of our planetary neighborhood.
Beyond the science, these rovers have shown us something even greater. They have shown us that still has the “right stuff” in their ability to over-deliver on promises made. I find it almost ironic that the little robot that is still running around on Mars is called “Opportunity”. Perhaps, this little guy will also keep the door cracked for us to get humans back into the business of exploring our surroundings beyond our own planet in the near future.
- Mars rover rolls into its eighth year (cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com)
- As Mars Slips Behind the Sun, NASA Rover Goes Solo (space.com)
- How often are the Mars space robots out of contact with the Earth? [Greg Laden’s Blog] (scienceblogs.com)
- Stranded, Stubborn Mars Rover Actually Makes a Big Discovery [MarsRover] (gizmodo.com)
- Mars shots pay tribute to moonshot (cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com)