Sunday, January 25, 2004


Spirit is still having trouble, but it appears that Opportunity has landed without a hitch.

PASADENA, Calif. Jan. 25 — NASA's Opportunity rover landed on Mars late Saturday, arriving at the Red Planet exactly three weeks after its identical twin set down, and prompting whoops and cheers of delight from mission scientists.

"We're on Mars everybody," Rob Manning, manager of the entry, descent and landing portion of the mission, shouted as fellow scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory burst into wild applause.

The unmanned, six-wheeled rover landed at 9:05 p.m. PST in Meridiani Planum, NASA said. The smooth, flat plain lies 6,600 miles and halfway around the planet from where its twin, Spirit, set down on Jan. 3.

Martians were on hand to congratulate the scientific team:

Minutes after the landing, former Vice President Al Gore and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger strode through mission control, shaking hands with elated scientists.

Apparently, these rovers are tough little bastards:

Swaddled in protective air bags, it struck Mars at a force estimated to be two to three times Earth's gravity. Engineers had designed it to withstand as much as 40 G's, said Chris Jones, director of flight projects at JPL.

"It probably barely noticed it hit anything," Jones said.

Manning said the signals it was sending indicated it was in good shape.

Congrats, team. Now please get Spirit back online.


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