Originally Published: January 7, 2004 7 a.m.
"We're back," one National Aeronautics and Space Administration official said Sunday once they knew the agency had successfully landed an exploratory rover on Mars.
It was NASA's first visit to the planet since the 1997 Pathfinder mission and Viking in 1976.
The successful landing came after a series of ill-fated efforts to put exploratory robots on the planet 106 million miles from Earth.
It also may as well be a first time in light of the incredible technology aboard this flight, including a key experiment from Arizona State University.
The pictures the Spirit rover has sent back so far are nothing short of stunning, and more; and higher-resolution images are yet to come – not to mention countless experiments to examine the barren, windswept surface for any signs of water or evidence that the planet once had water.
In the coming days, the rover will receive instructions to lift itself up, extend its front legs and set about the business of checking out the presumed ancient lake bed in which it landed.
It truly is an amazing time to be alive.