back to article Loyal NASA rover Opportunity enters 9th year of Mars boffinry

NASA’s exploration rover Opportunity entered its historic ninth year of service on Mars today, having already driven over 21 miles and helped boffins make groundbreaking scientific discoveries on the unforgiving world. The roving robot touched down in Eagle Crater on the Red Planet on 25 January 2004, three weeks after its …


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  1. Ian Ferguson

    Wishlist for next Martian rover:

    1. Windscreen wipers on solar panels

    1. ScottAS2

      Christmas trees: now in aluminium

      Would a nuclear-powered laser beam do instead?

    2. Fatman

      RE: Wishlist for next Martian rover:

      1. A more reliable source of power that does not depend on sunlight reaching dust laden solar panels. (like a nuke battery!)

      GO icon, because I hope it keeps on going, and going, and going (like the Energizer bunny!)

  2. lawndart


    21 miles in eight years, or 0.0002995 mph.

    Send in the Stig.

    1. ScottAS2

      Presumably Clarkson would manage to offend the Martians

      Well it did travel 320 million miles in about seven months (~65,000 mph) to get there, so I think it's due a rest.

      1. Code Monkey
        Thumb Up

        So on average it's still pretty damned fast!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        so allowing for its progress over the last eight years seven months

        its overall average is somewhere around

        320000021 / (24*365.25*8.58) = 4,254.6 mph

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      the speed limit may be 0.0003 mph

      (how much is that in furlongs per fortnight?)

      As a guest to planet, it should stick to the local traffic rules

      1. fishman

        2900 furlongs/fortnight.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Google would disagree...

          Search term:

          0.0002995 mph in furlongs per fortnight

          Answer given:

          0.0002995 mph = 0.805056 furlongs per fortnight

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            On the other hand

            The term "21 miles per 8 years in furlongs per fortnight" gives "(21 miles) per (8 years) = 0.804945324 furlongs per fortnight".

            Seems to be some rounding errors somewhere.

  3. ravenviz Silver badge


    "The rover will stay there until mid-2012 [...] trying to work out whether the interior of the planet is molten"

    These robots are getting pretty clever!

  4. Dave's Jubblies

    Nothing to say but...

    What an incredible achievement...

  5. simon 43
    Thumb Up

    Lest we forget...

    Opportunity is doing a great job out there, but let's spare a thought for it's twin, Spirit which delivered it's own set of sucesses!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


      1. Andy Farley

        Love that xkcd.

        But imagine how Voyager feels.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          It's not going to be happy...

          ...when it comes back in a few hundred years looking for its Creator...

      2. TimeMaster T

        I prefer

        And from what I hear the people at JPL prefer it too.

        A raise of the glass to both the rovers and the people who built them.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time is an illusion

    "its historic ninth year of service on Mars "

    "its fifth Martian winter"

    So surely that's about 5 or 6 years then?

    Or should the first line be "ninth earth-year"?

    If only we had units of time that weren't based on a dynamic speed (even Earth's rotation around the Sun is slowing down)

    1. CynicalOptimist

      or 63 in dog years! Well done Rover.

  7. TRT Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    21 miles in 9 years...

    That's quicker than digging the Channel Tunnel!

  8. Gregg Stuart

    Perhaps they should rename it


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What the worlds* needs....

    Self cleaning solar panels!

    * Mars and Earth

  10. Juan Inamillion

    New keyboard required

    "Plucky robot rests before sniffing Endeavour's rim"



  11. Anonymous Coward

    21 miles in nine years, I had a Rover car like that once....

    I'll get my coat.

  12. MJI Silver badge

    What an achievement

    It is amazing how long it has carried out being useful.

  13. Andus McCoatover

    This is just unbelieveable

    This is fantastic! Love those machines.

    Don't stick your tongue out to Phobos-Grunt. It tried valiantly.

    Just didn't make it.


  14. earl grey


    For it's little lost buddy....

  15. Sporkinum

    The new rover, currently on it's way to Mars, is nuclear powered. So it will have no issues with dust or having to stay parked during the winter.

    1. katx5h

      Speed Cameras

      Then it should most definitely be careful about following the Martian speed laws.

  16. asdf

    yeah but

    Some of Nasa's success stories go on and on long after their stated shelf lives(Voyager, Rover) but lest we forget a large number of their billion dollar probes simply smash into said target (when not supposed too) and return little science.

    1. Fractured Cell

      Wasn't that to do with the Americans, and their little "Hurr durr everything runs on imperial because we say so" issue?

      1. laird cummings

        @Fractured Cell

        Not so much. More is was merely a failure to check which standards were in use by what teams, and making sure conversions between teams were accurate. Metric, Imperial, and even El Reg units would all work quite well together, so long as you know who's using what, and convert correctly.

        Meanwhile, those projects where NASA hits one 'out of the park' surely do go a long way towards making up for the bunts and foul balls that are their less-successful projects.

        1. Tinker Tailor Soldier

          No Excuse

          I would get a ZERO for any answer in any Engineering exam that wasn't in SI units (and only powers of 1000 of those, so no cm thanks). You don't get to pick and choose. Whoever chose Imperial, contracted with anyone using Imperial or knew that someone on the project was using imperial and didn't hit the breaks should be fired, probably retroactively.

          1. laird cummings

            The real world

            Is pass/fail. Either it works or it doesn't. No points of purity of process.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Congratulations to the Opportunity design and operations teams!!

    A heck of a piece of engineering and operations, to keep the thing going for 8 years in a harsh environment with no maintenance!!

  18. Unicornpiss

    If only Dell had this kind of build quality

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

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