When I started writing this blog – almost ten years ago now – I thought that Opportunity had two, maybe three more years of roving ahead of her. Five at the most. She had already travelled so far, seen so much, made so many discoveries, that to expect many more years than that seemed not just greedy but unrealistic.
So by the time Opportunity had reached the rim of Endeavour Crater I was absolutely sure (although I never said it here of course!) that it was just a matter of time before her mission was ended by a technical failure of some sort – a computer glitch that left her with the robot equivalent of dementia, or maybe a physical fault with some part of her structure. There was also a good chance that Mars itself would take out the rover, just as it took out her sister, Spirit, years earlier. So I started writing this blog with the mindset that every day Oppy woke up was a bonus, every sunrise and sunset she saw was a gift, every metre she rolled and crunched and scrunched across the dusty surface of Barsoom a wonder not to be taken for granted.