This stuff continues to baffle me. The planet is like 80 million miles away, and we just drove a go cart around on it for over a mile. While taking pictures. And beaming them back to earth. And navigating the terrain. And not blowing a strut or tipping over, or any number of things that could go wrong. Cause see, if this did happen, there isn't a handy tow company in the vicinity to fix it. Freaking VERY cool stuff....
SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Surpasses the One-Mile Mark! - sol 121-123, May 10, 2004
On sol 121, after a brief nap, Spirit conducted atmospheric measurements before continuing its trek toward the "Columbia Hills." A 96.8 meter (318 feet) drive that consisted of about half direct drive and half auto-navigational drive broke Spirit's last one-sol distance traveled. That drive brought the mission total to 1,669 meters (1.04 miles), flipping the rover's odometer over the one-mile mark.
Sol 122 was a touch-and-go day, starting with a half-hour alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration, a one-hour Mössbauer integration and a set of four microscopic images all on the same patch of soil. Panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer data were also obtained before an afternoon nap. The bulk of the afternoon was spent driving another 65 meters (213 feet).
Sol 123 started off with Panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations for near-field surveys, atmospheric studies, and localization. Spirit then took a half-hour nap, followed by the day's drive. This sol consisted of another 48-meter (about 157-feet) direct drive, the mid-drive survey and localization remote sensing, and then 47-meters (about 154 feet) of driving using auto-navigation. The total was 95.2 meters (312 feet), bringing the mission total to 1830 meters (1.14 miles).
Way to be NASA.......Now stop screwing around with Mars and figure out where the asteroids are, and how we're going to stop them.
THIS should be getting more funding than most of the NASA projects right now, because as I've stated before, all the Mars stuff won't mean jack once we find a big ass NEO headed for downtown LA....