Monday, April 28, 2014

Mars Rover Models, Kennedy Space Center

When I was in Florida back in 2011 for the launch of the Mars rover Curiosity, the Kennedy Space Center visitor center had a display showing three generations of Mars rovers. From largest to smallest, they are: Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity (2011); Mars Exploration Rovers/Spirit & Opportunity (2003), and Mars Pathfinder/Sojourner (1997). Both Curiosity and Opportunity are currently operating, the latter now a few months into its tenth Earth year on Mars.

In addition to these rovers, and garnering much less publicity, there has also been a series of Mars orbiters over the same time period. In fact, beginning July 4th, 1997 there has always been at least one operating spacecraft at Mars, either on the surface or in orbit. In fall 2015, the annual Beloit College Mindset List can say that within the lifetimes of incoming college freshmen, there have always been robots at Mars. That's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

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