19 May, 2010
The Mars rover Opportunity is now the longest operating lander on Mars, surpassing the Viking 1 lander that lasted more than 6 years on Mars. Opportunity was designed for 90 days on Mars. It is currently on a trek to the crater Endeavor, eight miles away. It can see it's goal on the horizon. The older rover Spirit is currently hibernating in the Martian winter and if it wakes up in the spring, it will take over the title of longest operating lander. It is, however, stuck in a sand dune and only able to take stationary science data. This is actually valuable now that it isn't moving, some more precise and longer term measurements can be taken.
People crap on NASA for it's failures. The Mars Rovers and many other NASA missions are amazing in what they have achieved and are still achieving. Phoenix, Galileo, Cassini, Magellan, Apollo, SOHO, Chandra, Spitzer and even Hubble... These should all be names every school kid and taxpayer knows and sees as examples of how hugely successful we can make a project work.