Mars rover

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Artist's conception of the Curiosity rover vaporizing rock on Mars. The rover landed on Mars in August 2012.

A Mars rover is an automated motor vehicle that propels itself across the surface of the planet Mars upon arrival.

Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months, and they can advance the knowledge of how to perform very remote robotic vehicle control.

There have been four successful robotically operated Mars rovers. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed the Mars Pathfinder mission and its now inactive Sojourner rover. It currently manages the Mars Exploration Rover mission's active Opportunity rover and inactive Spirit, and, as part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, the Curiosity rover.

On January 24, 2014, NASA reported that current studies on the planet Mars by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers will now be searching for evidence of ancient life, including a biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic, and/or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable.[1][2][3][4] The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on the planet Mars is now a primary NASA objective.[1]

Image map of Mars landings[edit]

The following imagemap of the planet Mars has embedded links to geographical features in addition to the noted Rover and Lander locations. Click on the features and you will be taken to the corresponding article pages. North is at the top; Elevations: red (higher), yellow (zero), blue (low).

Tharsis MontesHellas PlanitiaOlympus MonsValles MarinerisArabia TerraAmazonis PlanitiaElysium MonsIsidis PlanitiaTerra CimmeriaArgyre PlanitiaAlba MonsMap of Mars
About this image

Spirit (2004) > Spirit

Opportunity (2004) > Opportunity

Pathfinder < Pathfinder/Sojourner (1997)

Viking 1 (1976) > Viking 1

Viking 2 (1976) > Viking 2

Phoenix < Phoenix (2008)

Mars 3 < Mars 3 (1971)

Curiosity (2012) > Curiosity

Beagle 2 < Beagle 2 (2003)


Comparison of distances driven by various wheeled vehicles on the surface of Earth's moon and Mars.

Several rovers have been sent to Mars:


Mars rovers in development include:

One experimental design, not proposed for any actual mission, is:


NASA distinguishes between "mission" objectives and "science" objectives. Mission objectives are related to progress in space technology and development processes. Science objectives are met by the instruments during their mission in space.

The details of rover science vary according to equipment carried. The primary goal of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers is to discover "the history of water on Mars".[29] (The presence of usable water would greatly reduce manned mission cost.)

The four science goals of NASA's long-term Mars Exploration Program are:

Panorama of Husband Hill taken by the Spirit rover (November, 2005).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Grotzinger, John P. (January 24, 2014). "Introduction to Special Issue - Habitability, Taphonomy, and the Search for Organic Carbon on Mars". Science 343 (6169): 386–387. doi:10.1126/science.1249944. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ Various (January 24, 2014). "Special Issue - Table of Contents - Exploring Martian Habitability". Science 343 (6169): 345–452. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Various (January 24, 2014). "Special Collection - Curiosity - Exploring Martian Habitability". Science. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  4. ^ Grotzinger, J.P. et al. (January 24, 2014). "A Habitable Fluvio-Lacustrine Environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars". Science 343 (6169). doi:10.1126/science.1242777. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Mars 2 Lander". NASA NSSDC. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  6. ^ a b NSSDC – Beagle 2. NASA
  7. ^ a b "Mars Exploration". 10 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  8. ^ Boyle, Alan. "Good moves on Mars". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  9. ^ Times, International Business (January 26, 2010). "NASA concedes defeat in effort to free rover". Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  10. ^ "NASA Concludes Attempts To Contact Mars Rover Spirit". NASA. May 24, 2011. 
  11. ^ "NASA's Mars Rovers Set Surface Longevity Record". NASA. May 19, 2010. 
  12. ^ 'Greeley Haven' is Winter Workplace for Mars Rover
  13. ^ Webster, Guy; Brown, Dwayne (July 28, 2014). "NASA Long-Lived Mars Opportunity Rover Sets Off-World Driving Record". NASA. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ Knapp, Alex (July 29, 2014). "NASA's Opportunity Rover Sets A Record For Off-World Driving". Forbes. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Mars Science Laboratory Launch". 26 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  16. ^ Associated Press (26 November 2011). "NASA Launches Super-Size Rover to Mars: 'Go, Go!'". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-26. 
  17. ^ USGS (16 May 2012). "Three New Names Approved for Features on Mars". USGS. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  18. ^ NASA Staff (27 March 2012). "'Mount Sharp' on Mars Compared to Three Big Mountains on Earth". NASA. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Agle, D. C. (28 March 2012). "'Mount Sharp' On Mars Links Geology's Past and Future". NASA. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  20. ^ Staff (29 March 2012). "NASA's New Mars Rover Will Explore Towering 'Mount Sharp'". Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  21. ^ Webster, Guy; Brown, Dwayne (22 July 2011). "NASA's Next Mars Rover To Land At Gale Crater". NASA JPL. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  22. ^ Chow, Dennis (22 July 2011). "NASA's Next Mars Rover to Land at Huge Gale Crater". Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  23. ^ Amos, Jonathan (22 July 2011). "Mars rover aims for deep crater". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  24. ^ Michael A. Taverna (October 19, 2009). "ESA Proposes Two ExoMars Missions". Aviation Week. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  25. ^ ELLIE ZOLFAGHARIFARD (15 October 2013). "How medieval stained-glass is creating the ultimate SPACE camera: Nanoparticles used in church windows will help scientists see Mars' true colours under extreme UV light". 
  26. ^ "China plans to land rover on Mars by 2020". SpaceDaily. 1 July 2014. 
  27. ^ "The Canadian Space Agency's Fleet of Rovers". Canadian Space Agency. Retrieved 2014-09-28. 
  28. ^ Kimberly W. Land (May 13, 2003). "A new way to explore the surface of Mars". NASA. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  29. ^ "Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Overview". Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  30. ^ "Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Science – Looking for signs of past water on Mars". Retrieved 2008-06-25. 

External links[edit]