The Little Space Rover That Could

Nearly twelve years ago, the NASA space rover, Opportunity, landed on Mars for a mission designed to last three months.

Now, almost a dozen years later the little six-wheeled critter is still poking around the rocky Martian landscape.

Little by little it has covered 26 miles, more than any machine has ever done on another celestial body. It has sent back 200,000 pictures of Mars.

Can you imagine twelve years of, “beep, beep, beep. Clunk!” (It bumps into a rock and repositions itself)? Beep, beep, beep, beep. Clunk!” Rock. Reposition.

It’s starting to have a problem with its flash memory drive. I wonder if bumping into rocks might play a role in the problem. That will do it.

The bottom line, though, is this: if you want to talk about exceeding expectations, you can start with this little machine. NASA may shut it down in 2016 if they can’t repair the memory problem (hey guys, if you find a answer, let me know, huh? I could use a solution to this problem, too.)

NASA must decide whether to invest in more up-to-date technology that is more precise and that can do things the faithful little space rover can’t.

No problem. Everything and everybody has to move off the scene eventually.

But, still … twelve years instead of three months! Continue reading