Mars the land of Opportunity

NASA's second lander arrives on red planet to study gray hematite

Sam Jaffe(
Jan 25, 2004

With the successful landing of the Opportunity lander on Saturday (January 24), NASA is now suffering from a rare embarrassment of riches: two Martian rovers on the brink of exploring very different geological realms of the red planet. The news got even better the next day when NASA announced that the malfunctions on the Spirit rover appear to be fixable software glitches that can be recoded. Engineers expect to get Spirit up and moving again within 2 weeks.

Now that both rovers appear to be back on their feet—or wheels—they are set to explore two very different places. At the heart of the geological differences are the little silvery pendants that Brian M. Hynek handed out on Saturday night to partygoers at his lab as they watched the Opportunity landing unfold live on TV. The research associate in the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmosphere and Space Physics gave each...