On a red ‘star’ in the night sky, a historic journey is taking place…
In January 2004 the Nasa Mars Rover Opportunity, and its twin rover Spirit arrived from Earth to start their missions to study the rocks of the red world. The two robot geologists have made incredible disoveries about Mars in the years they’ve been active there, and it’s now known that Mars was shaped by water billions of years ago. From the study of different rock compositions at the different sites the rovers visited, it was discovered that the minerals found could only have been formed in water.
But back in May 2009 the Mars Rover Spirit got into a sticky situation, and got its wheels well and truly stuck in the Martian soil. It continued to operate though as a static science station for some time, but the last contact was made with Spirit on 22nd March 2010. After numerous attempts since to establish communication, engineers gave up trying and the Nasa Mars Rover Spirit is now officialy dead. But its twin lives on, still roaming around on the Martian surface and fully active, out living its original mission by roughly 30 times. Opportunity Rover is steaming ahead, covering ground and doing lots of science. Between September 2008 and August 2011 the little metal guy travelled 13 miles from the 2,428 foot wide Victoria Crater to the 14 mile wide Endeavour Crater. The image below shows Opportunity’s route up to July 29th 2011, from where it landed inside Eagle Crater in January 2004, to the rim of the huge Endevour Crater on July 29th 2011.
At the end of every Martian day Nasa engineers got the Opportunity Rover to take a “Wish you were here” photo snap, and now every one of those 309 images from Victoria to Endeavour have been made into the impressive video you see above. Near the end of the video you can clearly see the rim of Endeavour looming up in the far distance, and getting closer. Endeavour is the largest crater ever visited by any of the Mars Rovers, and is very interesting to scientists because the object that slammed into the surface creating the crater, lifted up very ancient rocks.
The sound you hear is a representation of the vibrations of opportunity’s wheels on the Martian terrain, louder means it’s moving across bedrock, and quieter means it driving across sand.