The launch of the Spirit rover on June 10, 2003 marked the beginning of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission, which continued for over 14 years till last contact with Spirit's twin Opportunity on June 10, 2018.
Spirit took some of the clearest images of the red planet - including the above photo, at the time the highest quality image of another world. It also undertook numerous scientific tests, and traveled extensively near and around its landing area.
In early 2009 the rover became stuck in a sand trap and could not be freed by its NASA controllers. It ceased communication almost a year later on March 22, 2010, and NASA officially ended the Spirit program on May 24, 2011.
The Opportunity rover, which landed on January 25, 2004, remained active till last contact on June 10, 2018.
Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons
- 2003-06-10 The Spirit Rover is launched, beginning NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission
- 2004-01-25 NASA's Opportunity rover (MER-B) lands on the surface of Mars
- 2015-03-24 NASA's Opportunity rover becomes the first to complete a Martian marathon
- 2018-06-10 A planetary dust storm causes NASA's Opportunity Rover to cease communication from Mars
- 2019-02-13 NASA confirms Mars Opportunity rover's mission has ended after 15 years due to a sandstorm damaging its communications
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