Space Twins. In 2004, the smart little robot geologists left Earth and traveled through space for seven months before ripping into the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 m.p.h. Thanks to giant air bags, they landed safely in the red sand after a journey of 302 million miles. The robot Spirit, who bears a strong family resemblance to R2D2, got busy looking for signs of ancient water — then promptly went on the fritz. Not to worry. Spirit had remote brain surgery as its twin, Opportunity, landed on the other side of Mars. Soon both were sending high-tech picture postcards of panoramic shots, blue sunsets, and, oh, yeah, microscopic images of soil and dust from addresses like Sleepy Hollow, Mars. These bots brought the red planet closer — and kept us on the edge of our seats.
Spirit and Opportunity land on Mars.from Reader's Digest Magazine | May 2004