In Its Tenth Year on Mars, Opportunity's Biggest Discoveries May Be Yet to Come

The rover is investigating a formerly wet area on the planet

By on January 28th, 2013 20:01 GMT

Opportunity has spent its last nine years on Mars doing valuable research. Yet, as it enters its 10th year on the planet, its biggest discoveries and breakthroughs may be yet to come.

The rover has already proven quite conclusively that there was water on the surface of Mars at one point, something that was still debated a few years back. That alone would have made it a very successful mission.

But the rover, which had a planned mission of just three months, has done much more since. It has driven 35 kilometers, 22 miles since 2004 all on solar power.

Its longevity has enabled the rover to reach places the team didn't even consider originally. On the rim of the Endeavour Crater, it's now studying clay minerals created in contact with water billions of years ago.

This region may have been more favorable to life than the previous sites Opportunity explored since it's less acidic. It's here that Opportunity will spend its next few months analyzing the materials and formations it uncovered recently dubbed newberries.

See the gorgeous panorama Opportunity snapped as it celebrated its ninth anniversary on Mars.

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