On February 17, NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover marked 5,000 local days, also called as sol, of operations on the planet. The rover was originally meant to last only 90 sols after its January 2004 landing date.
The rover has not only extended the expected date of its stay, but has also broken records like completing a marathon-length tour of its surroundings and taking huge composite photos of its new world’s surface.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in a blog, “A Martian “sol” lasts about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day, and a Martian year lasts nearly two Earth years. Opportunity’s Sol 1 was landing day, January 25, 2004 (that’s in Universal Time; it was January 24 in California). The prime mission was planned to last 90 sols. NASA did not expect the rover to survive through a Martian winter. Sol 5,000 will begin early Friday, Universal Time, with the 4,999th dawn a few hours later. Opportunity has worked actively right through the lowest-energy months of its eighth Martian winter.”
Originally planned to last 90 Martian days, called sols, @MarsRovers Opportunity keeps going and going with the 5,000th sunrise this morning for the golf-cart-size robotic field geologist that continues to provide revelations about the Red Planet. Details: https://t.co/p9HfB6TViA pic.twitter.com/F8LjSD2qDk
— NASA (@NASA) February 17, 2018
The blog also reveals that by now, Opportunity has shot over 225,000 photos, including a recent selfie NASA posted.
Teen Life: Now 14-year-old Opportunity celebrates 5,000 sols on Mars with first full #selfie.
— Spirit and Oppy (@MarsRovers) February 17, 2018
NASA Mars Opportunity was accompanied with its twin rover, Spirit, which sent its last transmission in 2010 after getting stuck in sand and losing power. Opportunity, on the other hand, has been able to continuously recharge thanks to Martian winds which clear dust from its solar panels.