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December 30, 2013 - Lonely Rover

Lonely Rover When the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit bounced to a landing on the Red Planet ten years ago this week, it was the only working rover on Mars until its twin, Opportunity, touched down on the opposite side of Mars three weeks later. By then, Spirit had already begun a journey of exploration across Mars that would eventually cover 7,730 meters (4.8 miles) over the next seven years. In 2006, while exploring the region known as “Low Ridge,” Spirit spotted this field of dark, volcanic rock fragments pocked with rounded holes called vesicles, which formed when the ancient lava was cooling. The large boulder is about 40 centimeters (16 inches) tall and about 5 meters (16 feet) away from Spirit. In May 2009, Spirit became stuck in soft sand but continued to transmit data until March 2010.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / NMMNH

Weekly Calendar

December 30, 2013 - January 5, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 30

1957: Wernher von Braun proposes the Saturn-class launch vehicle

Moon phase Tuesday 31

New Year's Eve

1864: Robert Aitken born
2004: Cassini makes first flyby of Iapetus

Moon phase Wednesday 1

New Year's Day

New Moon 6:14 AM ET
Moon at perigee

1801: Giuseppe Piazzi discovers asteroid Ceres

Moon phase Thursday 2

1900: Leslie Peltier born
1920: Isaac Asimov born
1959: Luna 1 is first spacecraft to leave Earth’s gravitational field
1972: Mariner 9 begins mapping Mars
2004: Stardust encounters Comet Wild 2

Moon phase Friday 3

1962: NASA publicly announces and names Gemini program
2004: Mars rover Spirit lands

Moon phase Saturday 4

Earth at perihelion

1970: NASA cancels Apollo 20 mission; further production of Saturn V launch vehicles ceases

Moon phase Sunday 5

Neptune 5° south of Moon
Jupiter at opposition

1969: Venera 5 launched
1972: President Nixon announces approval to develop the Space Shuttle
2005: UB313 (Eris) discovered, ignites the Pluto-Planet debate

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.