8 years ago today, January 24, the Opportunity rover landed on Mars. In what has become a tradition, Stu Atkinson and Astro0 from Unmanned Spaceflight have teamed up to create a poster and poem combo to celebrate the occasion. While we fondly remember Spirit’s now-finished journey, the poster features scenes from Opportunity’s view of the ‘Tribulation’ hill and the hills of the crater rim beyond. And no, Oppy didn’t actually spin out in double donuts on Mars to create the ‘figure 8.’
“For a little effect, we’ve added the ‘figure 8’ in the form of the rovers own tracks on Mars,” Astro0 said. “While they may have dreamed of doing it, I’m sure no rover driver would ever be tempted to leave such a mark on Mars for real. So it was only right and proper that I and Photoshop do it for them.”
Click on the image above for a larger version or visit the Astro0 website for higher resolution versions that you can download to print out as a poster or use for your computer wallpaper. Stu’s poem — which both waxes wistful about the year of the MER rovers landing and prognosticates Mars’ future — is written out below:
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8 Years on Mars
Hard to believe the Homeworld has circled Sol eight times
Since the first MER bounced and boinged to a historic halt on Mars,
Spirit followed faithfully soon after by her sister, Opportunity,
Just as Clark had followed Lewis two centuries before.
Babies born bloodied and bawling on the day chase girls
In busy schoolyards now; wide-eyed, Star Trek t-shirt wearing
Interns who stumbled along the deer-stalked paths of JPL
Now have interns of their own, and peer at screens painted
Picasso-shades by read date beamed from the true Final Frontier…
In a thousand years, when Mars has oceans of retina-burning blue,
And honeymooning couples crump across the snow-capped summit
Of Olympus, the names ‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ will still be
Spoken wistfully; and tourists from Titan, explorers from Europa
And Hyperion’s most respected historians will stand before
The rovers, displayed in all their restored gory in the Great
Museum of Mars and envy us, this generation which saw Gusev’s
Rugged Rocks and Meridiani’s misty mountains for the first time,
In 2004, the year Earth finally conquered Mars.
By Stu Atkinson
To see maps of where the rovers are now, see the Mars Rover website.
See more images and musings on space at the Astro0 website, and follow along Oppy’s journey at the Stu’s Road to Endeavour site. For more skillfully mastered images from the MER mission and more, visit Unmanned Spaceflight.