It has been a long tour of duty for the small, oddly shaped buggy named Opportunity. For nine years it has trundled across the surface of Mars. It has diligently photographed, filmed, drilled, dug, sampled and sifted its way through a number of craters on the red planet. But so far, it has failed to answer some of science’s most crucial questions. Is there life on Mars? Has there ever been life there? Is the planet capable of sustaining life?
Opportunity touched down on Jan. 24, 2004, in Eagle Crater. There it began its study of the planet. It was not entirely alone in the mission. Another rover was sent with it. This one was named Spirit. Both were sent to work for three months. During 2010, Spirit bogged down in Martian sand and from that time on, Opportunity worked alone on the planet.