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Thu, Apr 07, 2005

Mars Rover Missions Extended... Again

...And Going, And Going, And Going....

NASA has given the twin rovers exploring Mars a new lease on life, extending their operations another 18-months. Like the Energizer Bunny, Spirit and Opportunity keep going... and going... and going....

The two exploration vehicles have already been roaming Mars for more than a year. They gave scientists at the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, CA, their strongest evidence to date that the Red Planet was once at least partially covered with water. In the universe of unmanned exploration projects, Spirit and Opportunity are superstars.

"The rovers have proven their value with major discoveries about ancient watery environments on Mars that might have harbored life," said Ghassem Asrar, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. He was quoted by UPI. "We are extending their mission through September 2006 to take advantage of having such capable resources still healthy and in excellent position to continue their adventures."

"Spirit and Opportunity are approaching targets that a year ago seemed well out of reach," said Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, also quoted by UPI. "Their successes strengthen NASA's commitment to a vision with the ambitious targets of returning samples from Mars and sending human explorers to Mars."



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