There's been a bit of hooning on the moon before (Apollo 16, see below), but there's never been anything involving more than one wheeled vehicle that could really be thought of as a 'race.' But that looks like it's about to change, with the possibility of a three-way rover race coming in 2016. FINALLY.
Maybe it's been the exciting, messiah-like death-and-rebirth of China's lunar rover, Jade Rabbit, but I've been thinking a lot about robotic space rovers lately. There haven't really been all that many — just eight have actually made it to either the moon or Mars. And now, for your use, are all eight collected on…
On January 4, 2004, the first of two identical robotic exploratory rovers, NASA's Spirit, snapped this stunning 360 degree image of its surroundings, moments after setting down on Mars. In the years to follow, both Spirit and its sister Opportunity helped revolutionize our understanding of the Red Planet.
When NASA's Opportunity rover launched on July 7th, 2003, expectations were modest. It would spend 90 Martian days exploring soil and rock samples and taking panoramas of the Red Planet; anything else would be a bonus. Nearly ten years after its initial shift was up, Opportunity is still going strong.
This fall, Nasa will launch its latest Mars rover dubbed "Curiosity" to further the Red Planet exploration done by Spirit and Opportunity. The differences? This one is the size of a compact car, shoots lasers and runs on nuclear power.