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Mars Exploration Rovers Five-Year Anniversary

January 12, 2009

Five years after landing on Mars, the twin exploration rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are still alive and studying opposite sides of the Red Planet.

Since landing in January of 2004, the rovers have made many discoveries about historically wet and violent environments on ancient Mars. They also have returned a quarter-million images, driven more than 13 miles, climbed a mountain, descended into craters, struggled with sand traps and aging hardware, survived dust storms, and relayed more than 36 gigabytes of data via NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.

More information is at http://www.nasa.gov/rovers .

Note that a variety of events are being held to mark the rovers' five-year anniversary. A listing of public events is online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2009-04. In addition, a celebration will be held at JPL on Thursday, Jan. 15, and the first hour will be carried live on NASA TV.

CUT 1 -- MARS EXPLORATION ROVER PROJECT MANAGER JOHN CALLAS OF NASA'S JET PROPULSION LABORATORY, PASADENA, CALIF., RUNS DOWN SOME VITAL STATISTICS ABOUT THE ROVERS.
Length: 18 seconds
Out: "OF SCIENTIFIC SPECTRA"
Play audio
Transcript: "Spirit has traveled about 7-1/2 kilometers, which is about 4-1/2 miles, and Opportunity has traveled 13-1/2 kilometers, which is a little over 8 miles on the surface of Mars. And combined they have returned over a quarter million images from the surface, in addition to many thousands of scientific spectra."

CUT 2 --JOHN CALLAS WAS ASKED ABOUT HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ROVERS' FIVE-YEAR JOURNEY ON MARS.
Length: 24 seconds
Out: "HAVE SUPPORTED LIFE"
Play audio
Transcript of CUT 2: " In terms of highlights, I think the discovery of high-purity silica that Spirit made about a year ago, which is evidence of ancient hydrothermal systems, think of hot springs, if you will, on an ancient Mars. That's significant because it means that Mars was more Earthlike and that it had the potential for an environment that could have supported life."

Listen to the full interview with John Callas in the JPL podcast at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/podcast/mer20090112.cfm