NASA and Smithsonian Host 10-Year Mars Rover Events

January 13, 2014
Source: NASA

Victoria Crater

This image taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the view of Victoria Crater from Duck Bay. Opportunity reached Victoria Crater on Sol 951 (September 27, 2006) after traversing 9.28 kilometers (5.77 miles) since her landing site at Eagle Crater. Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell.

NASA and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington are sponsoring events to commemorate 10 years of roving across the Red Planet by the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER).

Anniversary activities will showcase the images and achievements of Spirit and Opportunity, both launched by NASA in the summer of 2003. Activities also will highlight how Mars robotic exploration and discovery will aid plans for a future human mission to Mars.

Spirit and Opportunity completed their three-month prime missions in April 2004 and went on to perform extended missions for years. The rovers made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. Although Spirit ceased communicating with Earth in March 2010, the Opportunity rover continues its work on the Red Planet.

On January 7, NASA and the museum facilitated two panel discussions on Mars robotic and human missions. Held in the museum’s Moving Beyond Earth gallery, participants discussed the MER program and its scientific successes. Participants also provided updates on the agency’s activities to advance a human mission to Mars in the 2030s.

The museum is also featuring a new exhibit, “Spirit and Opportunity:  10 Years Roving Across Mars,” with more than 50 mosaic and panoramic photographs taken by the rovers. From a view of the Sun setting over the rim of a crater, to a study of “abstract dunes,” to a shot of rover tracks disappearing over the horizon, the images were chosen for their scientific and aesthetic content by MER mission team members.

On Thursday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m. PST, JPL will host a public celebration of a decade of the twin Mars Exploration rovers. The event will be held in the Beckman Auditorium on the California Institute of Technology campus, 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, California

The participants will be Charles Elachi (JPL Director), Steve Squyres (professor of astronomy at Cornell University and principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover mission), John Callas (project manager, Mars Exploration Rover Project), and Bill Nye (chief executive officer of the Planetary Society).

The event will be streamed live at

On Friday, January 17, at 7:00 p.m. PST, JPL will host a public lecture delivered by John Callas, entitled “The Mars Exploration Rovers:  A Decade of Exploration,” at the Vosloh Forum on the campus of Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, California.

On Thursday, January 23, at 11:00 a.m. PST, JPL will host a media briefing on the Opportunity rover’s decade of exploration. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the event. Reporters and the public can ask questions from NASA centers and via Twitter using the hashtag #10YrsOnMars.

Participants will include John Callas, Steve Squyres, and Ray Arvidson (Mars Exploration Rovers deputy principal investigator, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri).

The discussion will also be webcast live at For NASA TV streaming video, downlink, and scheduling information, visit

For more information on the rovers and the Mars Exploration Program, visit

Mars:  NASA Explores the Red Planet

Mars Exploration Program


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Last updated January 13, 2014