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Mars Rover Still Operational, NASA Says

Self-Portrait by Opportunity Mars Rover in January 2014
Self-Portrait by Opportunity Mars Rover in January 2014
The U.S. space agency, NASA, says its Mars rover Opportunity is still functioning and sharing data 10 years after landing on the red planet.

Opportunity touched down on January 24, 2004 - several weeks after its twin Rover, Spirit.

NASA scientists say one of Opportunity's six wheels and two instruments stopped working long ago, but those issues are minimal considering the rover project was expected to last three months.

Opportunity has logged 39 kilometers on Mars.

The scientists said Thursday the rover continues to make new discoveries, recently overturning a rock, exposing its underside to the Martian atmosphere for the first time in perhaps billions of years.

The Spirit rover stopped sending signals in 2010 after getting stuck in sand.

The solar-powered Opportunity rover is now in a sunny spot on the rim of Endeavour Crater, where it's spending its sixth winter poking into rocks and dirt.

Early discoveries by the two Mars rovers indicated the planet may once have been tropical and moist.

More recently, Opportunity uncovered geologic evidence of water at Endeavour Crater that's more suited for drinking - a boon for scientists searching for extraterrestrial places where primitive life could have thrived.
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