Since 2004, original interviews, original reporting, and the only regularly published news feature documenting NASA’s first overland expedition of the Red Planet through the adventures and discoveries of Opportunity, Spirit, and the MER team, by A.J.S. Rayl.
When Opportunity’s 5000th day dawned in February, it was a meaningful milestone for the team, and it led to a personal first for the veteran robot field geologist that has chalked up so many firsts she’s set the standard for Mars rovers.
With the Martian winter on the run, Opportunity cruised closer to its 14th anniversary of exploring the Red Planet in December as she deliberated a distinctive “fork in the road” deep in Perseverance Valley and wrapped another record year.
Opportunity continued the historic winter science campaign inside Perseverance Valley and delivered the goods that confirmed an important discovery in November, and then cruised through winter solstice, driving the mission closer to its 14th anniversary of surface operations coming up in January.
As brutally cold got even colder at Endeavour Crater in October, the depths of winter gripped Opportunity, and ‘life’ on Mars slowed. But the robot field geologist continued to work on through the doldrums of the season.
The Martian winter began to grip Endeavour Crater in September, slowing Opportunity's pace. But she braved the brutal cold in Perseverance Valley and followed her commands to visually document everything in sight.
Along the western rim of Endeavour Crater, Opportunity forged onward in August vicariously taking the Mars Exploration Rovers team – along with a global contingent of mission observers all around Earth – downhill into Perseverance Valley and deeper into a new chapter in this legendary expedition of the Red Planet.
The autumn skies over Endeavour Crater remained hazy as dust from the summer storms continued to rain down, but Opportunity encountered some unexpected and serious June gloom when her right front steering wheel jammed during the walkabout atop Perseverance Valley.
In another dynamic demonstration of what can be achieved when a team works together, Opportunity cruised to the top of Perseverance Valley, shot the moon, and drove into her 160th month of surface operations in May.
Opportunity spent the month of April 2017 outside the western rim of Endeavour Crater, cruising toward Cape Byron and Perseverance Valley, the centerpiece of its tenth extended mission.
Our Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) update has recorded the journeys of the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity on the surface of Mars since their arrival in January of 2004. It is a treasure trove of information, insight, and high-quality reporting detailing every step of this unprecedented voyage of discovery.