PASADENA, Calif. -- The team that operates NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity will receive the 2010 International Space Ops Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The citation for the award, to be presented April 29 in Huntsville, Ala., says, "For remarkable success in meeting unique and varied challenges of operating a rover on Mars and establishing a model for future in-situ operations."
The Mars Exploration Rover Project landed the twin rovers on the Red Planet in January 2004 for missions that were initially planned to last for three months. The team has operated the rovers for more than six years, making major science discoveries, driving a combined total of more than 27.5 kilometers (17 miles) over often-challenging terrain, and tending them through three Martian winters and potentially mission-ending dust storms.
The Space Ops Award for Outstanding Achievement is presented only once every two years. A panel composed of members from several nations' space agencies selects the recipient.
The International Committee on Technical Interchange for Space Mission Operations, also known as the SpaceOps Organization, created the award to recognize "teams whose exceptional contributions were critical to the success of one or more space missions." There were only two prior recipients: the Landsat 5 Flight Operations Anomaly Team, in 2006, and the Ulysses Mission Flight Team, in 2008.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the Mars rovers, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers .
SpaceOps was founded in 1990 to foster continuous technical interchange on all aspects of space mission operations and ground data systems, and to promote and maintain an international community of space operations experts.