NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, Endeavour Crater, Mars, January 27, 2012
One of the greatest photographic projects of our time, the two Mars Exploration Rovers landed in 2004 with nine cameras on board. There have been 3D photographs, simulated color panoramas, and grainy navigation photos. The rover Spirit accumulated 128,000 images, Opportunity has sent back 169,000 and is still going.
Few artists have approached this archive (Thomas Ruff comes to mind, but his Mars work seems to be from orbit, via the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter). Just in the way Michael Light explored and reprinted selections from the Apollo archive, it would be wonderful to see what Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Mark Klett, Todd Hido, Sally Mann, Rinko Kawauchi, Richard Misrach or Naoya Hatakeyama would find in there.
The Curiosity rover is powered by plutonium, which gives it minimum of 14 years of power. If tonight’s landing is successful, it could send back several million photographs over the next decades.