10 Years on Mars: Smithsonian Celebrates Spirit, Opportunity Rovers (Photos)

10 years on Mars


NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on the Red Planet in January 2004 to begin a 90-day mission that has transformed into an epic 10-year journey. Now, the rovers are the focus of a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washingtong, D.C. and you can see some of the iconic images from the mission here. in this gallery.

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Blueberries on Mars

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

These loose, BB-sized, hematite-rich spherules are embedded in this Martian rock like blueberries in a muffin and released over time by erosion. The Mars Rover Opportunity found this cluster of them at its Eagle Crater landing site and analyzed their composition with its spectrometers. Hypotheses about their formation have contributed to the story of water on Mars. [Read the Full Story]

On the Dunes

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Ralph Bagnold, an early pioneer of dune studies, remarked that—compared to the nearly static chaos that seems to characterize slowly crumbling, weathering landscapes—sand dunes can “move inexorably, in regular formation, over the surface of the country, growing, retaining their shape, even breeding, in a manner which by its grotesque imitation of life, is vaguely disturbing to an imaginative mind.” [Read the Full Story]

Dust Devil and Weathered Rock

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Spirit rover obtained this view of the area called Home Plate while parked atop Husband Hill. The colors emphasize differences in rock weathering. A large dust devil appears as the V-shaped discoloration of sky at the top right. [Read the Full Story]

Setting Sun on Mars

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Texas A&M/Cornell

The Mars Rover Spirit took this sublime view of a sunset over the rim of Gusev Crater, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Taken from Husband Hill, it looks much like a sunset on Earth — a reminder that other worlds can seem eerily familiar. Sunset and twilight images help scientists to determine how high into the atmosphere the Martian dust extends and to look for dust or ice clouds. [Read the Full Story]

The Empty Quarter on Mars

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Rover tracks disappear toward the horizon like the wake of a ship across the desolate sea of sand between the craters Endurance and Victoria on the Meridiani Plains. Opportunity took the image while stuck in the sand ripple dubbed Purgatory for over a month. This panorama (only partly shown here) was named Rub Al Khali after the "Empty Quarter" in the Arabian Desert. [Read the Full Story]

Martian Landscape

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

The Martian landscape takes center stage in a new exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

Blueberries on Mars?

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

The Opportunity rover took this photo of "blueberries" on Mars. In reality, they aren't fruit but spherical hematite inclusions on the Martian surface. The photo is on display at the Smithsonian.

Mars Rover Model

Miriam Kramer / SPACE.com

A model of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers named Spirit and Opportunity stands in a gallery honoring the Red Planet robots.

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