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    10 Years Roving the Red Planet

    The twin Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched toward Mars in the summer of 2003. They arrived months later in spectacular fashion, bouncing down safely on the surface ten years ago.

    The twin Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched toward

    Mars in June and July of 2003. They arrived months later in spectacular fashion,

    bouncing down safely on the surface after a harrowing six-minute descent through

    the thin atmosphere. Spirit arrived on January 3, 2004, 10 years ago today. Spirit

    operated for more than six years after landing for what was planned as a three-month mission.

    One of the mission's main scientific goals was to search for and study a wide range

    of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars. To do this, the

    rovers landed on opposite sides of Mars in locations that appear to have been

    affected by liquid water in the past.

    The goal of the rover was to travel at least 600 meters (0.37 mile) during a primary

    mission of 90 Martian days. Both rovers far exceeded these expectations. Spirit

    drove 4.8 miles (7.73 kilometers), more than 12 times the goal set for the mission.

    The drives crossed a plain to reach a distant range of hills that appeared as mere

    bumps on the horizon from the landing site; climbed slopes up to 30 degrees as

    Spirit became the first robot to summit a hill on another planet; and covered more

    than half a mile (nearly a kilometer) after Spirit's right-front wheel became immobile

    in 2006. The rover returned more than 124,000 images. It ground the surfaces off 15

    rock targets and scoured 92 targets with a brush to prepare the targets for

    inspection with spectrometers and a microscopic imager.

    Here are a few highlights from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit roving the Red

    Planet:

    Landed!

    Yes, Mars is Red

    Cutting the Cord & Getting Ready to Roll

    Postcard from the Red Planet

    Rover Takes a Sunday Drive

    Rolling On The Rocky Road

    The Call of the Dark Rocks

    Extend Your Arm & Work It

    Sunset from the Martian Surface

    Dust Devils

    Stargazing

    Spirit Says Goodbye to 'Home Plate'

    Rover's Wheel Churns Up Bright Martian Soil

    Spirit Triumphs on Mars

    View this video on YouTube

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