PASADENA, Calif., March 25 (UPI) -- NASA says the team that operates its Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity will receive the 2010 International Space Ops Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The space agency said the citation for the award, to be presented April 29 in Huntsville, Ala., says: "For remarkable success in meeting unique and varied challenges of operating a rover on Mars and establishing a model for future in-situ operations."
The award is presented every two years, with the recipient selected from members of several nations' space agencies.
"The Mars Exploration Rover Project landed the twin rovers on the Red Planet in January 2004 for missions that were initially planned to last for three months," NASA said in a statement. "The team has operated the rovers for more than six years, making major science discoveries, driving a combined total of more than 27.5 kilometers (17 miles) over often-challenging terrain, and tending them through three Martian winters and potentially mission-ending dust storms."
NASA officials said the International Committee on Technical Interchange for Space Mission Operations, also known as the SpaceOps Organization, created the award to recognize "teams whose exceptional contributions were critical to the success of one or more space missions." There are only two prior recipients: the Landsat 5 Flight Operations Anomaly Team, in 2006, and the Ulysses Mission Flight Team, in 2008.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project.