In addition to astrophysics missions, several planetary exploration missions proceeded throughout 2013. These missions all focused on investigating other orbital bodies in the Solar System, whether through orbiting satellites or robotic landers.
In August 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, carrying the Curiosity rover, landed on the surface of Mars. Curiosity carries ## science instruments with a total mass almost five times greater than the mass of either Spirit or Opportunity, NASA’s previous Mars rovers.
Another type of space and robotic exploration systems involves samples and observations being collected by systems located on the surface of other bodies in the Solar System. Several missions are in development both by government and commercial entities.
While ground-based telescopes and orbiting spacecraft can provide many kinds of new information, different insights are possible when physically present on other bodies in the Solar System. A number of spacecraft have touched down and explored the surface of other worlds, from the human Apollo landings more than 40 years ago to the robotic Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
Space surface systems are designed to operate on planets and other extraterrestrial bodies including the Moon, asteroids, and comets. Two well-known examples of these surface systems are the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The rovers landed on Mars in January 2004 for a planned 90-day mission.
Surface systems include all systems that operate on the surface of an asteroid, comet, or planet other than Earth, for instance, NASA’s Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The planned 90-day mission for these vehicles has lasted for 45 months, greatly increasing scientific knowledge of Mars.
Surface systems are those systems that operate on the surface of a planet. Current operational surface systems include the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. These robots were launched in June and July 2003, with the purpose of understanding the history of water on Mars.