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Mars Opportunity Rover Celebrates 10th Birthday Of Nasa Martian Mission

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There's not much scope for cakes and parties on Mars so the Opportunity rover celebrated its 10th birthday the way it knows best - by reaching the halfway point in its latest voyage of discovery.

The Nasa machine was launched a decade ago on Sunday and was originally only intended to last three months.

But Opportunity has far surpassed the remit of its original mission and is still making astounding discoveries - unlike its launch partner Spirit, which shut down in 2010.

mars opportunity

Opportunity

The rover recently discovered a rock rich in clay minerals indicating drinkable water once flowed on Mars.

Infamously, it also accidentally drew a penis after performing a turning manoeuvre.

It is currently halfway through a 1.2 mile journey through 'Botany Bay' from the tip of the Endeavour crater to another area called 'Solander Point'.

mars opportunity

Opportunity (right) with Spirit before being launched in 2003

John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California said in a statement: "The surface that Opportunity is driving across in Botany Bay is polygonally fractured outcrop that is remarkably good for driving.

"The plates of outcrop, like a tiled mosaic pavement, have a thin covering of soil, not enough to form the wind-blown ripples we've had to deal with during some other long treks.

"The outcrop plates are light-toned, and the cracks between them are filled with dark, basaltic soil and our old friends the 'blueberries'."

nasa

The rock where Opportunity found evidence of drinkable water

'Blueberries' are small, hematite-rich, ball-bearing like formations Opportunity discovered shortly after landing.

Opportunity is on course to break the extraterrestrial driving record which currently stands at 26 miles covered by the Soviet moon rover Lunokhod 2 launched in 1973.

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