The Mars Exploration Rover Mission

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched two similar twin robotic rovers, which were Spirit and Opportunity toward Mars on 10 June and 7 July 2003 (NASA 2012). Spirit and Opportunity landed in Gusev Crater on 4 January 2004 and in Meridiani Planum on 25 January 2004 respectively (NASA 2012). Opportunity is still operating and roving after 10 years on the Martian surface while final communication of Spirit to the Earth took place on 22 March 2010, which is around six years into its mission (NASA 2012). The rovers were thought to last 20 times longer as compared to its original design. As part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, the Mars Exploration Rover mission is a continuing multi-mission effort to study Mars as a…show more content…
Although Spirit and Opportunity encountered plenty of setbacks, however, they were still able to reach Mars on schedule (Goodrich et al. 2010).

Achievements of the Mars Exploration Rover mission are impressive. Spirit found evidence of past water through its months-long trek across different layers of hilly terrain at Columbia Hills, as each layer consisted of clues to past environmental conditions on Mars (NASA 2013). More signs of a wet past became obvious as the rover gained altitude. By investigating the composition and texture of more than six different types of rocks, scientists identified that this area was once a hot, violent place with volcanic explosions and impacts (NASA 2013). Marks on debris throughout the area were formed by abundant water in the form of hot springs or other water features. Mineral goethite which only forms in the presence of water was found to present in one of the rock types (NASA 2013). Therefore, it signified the first direct evidence of past water in Columbia Hills. Besides that, spirit’s wheel scraped a trench in Mars surface soil as it struggled up toward a ridgeline on Husband Hill, disclosing light-toned material in which the salty material had water molecules bound to the minerals, uncovering the watery pasts of Mars (NASA 2013). In addition, dust found in Gusev Crater by Spirit was found to consist of ferrimagnetic minerals such as
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