Window of Opportunity
Astonishingly, it is still working, still trundling around, and still sending back amazing images and new information. (despite falling into a hole, and succesfully getting out again)
It does rather beg the question of what the actual point would be of George W Bush's plan to send a manned mission to Mars.
I'm old enough to remember the Apollo flights, and I supported them then, despite the collosal cost, and the strong feelings at the time that the money could be better spent (remember Gil Scott Heron's "Whitey's on the Moon"?)
But at that time, those brave astronauts were by far the most sophisticated pieces of equipment on those flights. Sent to the moon in a leaky tin can, with computing power less than that of a pocket calculator, and practically held together with elastic bands.
"Opportunity" has proven that to put human beings through the masochistic extremes of a long-haul flight to Mars and back, would not only be hugely costly, but also completely unneccessary.
As a child weened on "2001" and Gerry Anderson, I would have loved the swashbuckling adventure of a Mars mission, and yes it still holds a huge romantic power for me. But, as skeptics, I think it's our duty this time to oppose a manned mission as pure and silly vanity, and scientifically misplaced.
With Voyager 1 9.3 billion miles from the Sun (and apparently still sending faint signals), and Opportunity still put-putting about the Martian surface, it's time to side with Scott Heron and proclaim manned space flight to be irrational.