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The Planetary Society Congratulates NASA for 10 Years of Exploring Mars with Opportunity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
01/23/2014

CONTACT:
Diane Murphy
Email: dianewmurphy@gmail.com

PASADENA, CA - The Planetary Society congratulates NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the scientific team led by Dr. Steve Squyres for the unprecedented success of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity achieving 10 years of continuous operations on Mars.

“Imagine a car with a 3-year warranty lasting 120 years instead!” said Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society. “Think of all the places you’d go and things you’d see. In a way, this is what the Opportunity rover team has accomplished. We make discoveries virtually every day—every sol—on Mars. This kind of mission is what NASA does best. Opportunity will continue to help us explore and discover as we search for clues to the geologic history of Mars and our own Earth. Here’s wishing the team a continued safe journey and the joy of discovery.”

Since its landing on January 25, 2004, Opportunity has endured global dust storms, sand traps, frigid martian winters, and three Presidential elections without a tune up, tweak, or pitstop. She and her twin, Spirit, have trekked for miles beyond their original design parameters and discovered evidence that Mars was once soaked with water. The science and engineering return from both rovers is incalculable, and all for the cost of about 35¢ per American per year.

The success of Opportunity is a testament to the unparalleled engineering prowess of the nation’s space program and the result of a consistent, focused effort of Mars exploration. The many lessons learned from Opportunity’s 10-year traverse informed the construction and operations of the latest rover, Curiosity, which in turn will inform the upcoming 2020 Mars rover now in development.

For millennia the mysteries of Mars haunted the minds of human beings. The MER rovers Spirit and Opportunity helped solve some of these mysteries, but they uncovered many more along the way. Mars remains a tantalizing destination, rich with potential for scientific discovery and adventure. The successful exploration of our planetary neighbor is one of the finest achievements of the human species; The Planetary Society congratulates the hard-working, committed people that pursue this noble endeavor.

The Planetary Society is celebrating this milestone all month with:

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About the Planetary Society

The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a long time member of the Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.

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