While relying on smart maneuvering, conservation and a certain amount of good luck, Squyres learned to accept the missions' successes while anticipating their eventual end.
"There's always going to be some tantalizing thing just beyond our reach that we didn't quite get to," he said. "And that's, I guess, the nature of exploration and so we just live with it."
NASA has extended the rovers' missions five times, most recently in October, 2007.
"We're going to keep operating these vehicles until they drop dead," said Squyres. "And that could be days, weeks, years, I have no idea."
PUBLICATIONS: presentation at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, December 2008.
RESEARCH FUNDED BY: NASA.