Spiral Notebook
Opportunity reaches TEN YEARS on Mars!
by Elizabeth Rusch
January 24, 2014
Opportunity reaches TEN YEARS on Mars!

Ten years ago today (January 24, 2004), the rover Opportunity landed on Mars with a three-month mission to find signs of past water on the red planet.  A three-month mission that has lasted TEN years — what an incredible, amazing, miraculous accomplishment!

Good thing Opportunity has lasted so long. Some of Opportunity’s most important discoveries have happened in the past year as it explores the rim of Endeavour Crater, climbing the hills around Solander Point. The area is rich with clays, which are often laid down in water.  But not just any water—not the very acidic, battery-acid-like, water found on other places on the planet.

“Clay minerals tend to form only at a more neutral pH. This is water you could drink,” Steve Squyres, the hero of my book, The Mighty Mars Rovers, and lead scientist on the mission told The Telegraph:  “It was much more favorable for things like prebiotic chemistry – the kind that could lead to the origin of life.”

Fresh, drinkable water once present on Mars is a revelation – and so is this whole mission. Learn more about the past 10 years, fun ways to celebrate the anniversary, and resources to bring this incredible mission to life in your classroom in blog I wrote for INK (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids).

Happy 10th Anniversary to Opportunity and all the people who have worked on this historic mission!

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Caltech
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