With NASA’s InSight launch coming up this Saturday, there are a few obvious ways to celebrate: making space-themed cocktails, staying up until 4 a.m. to watch the livestream, and of course, arguing with your beloved friends and colleagues about which NASA rover is the best.
We should note that InSight is not a rover. The lander will remain stationary on Mars for at least the next two years, analyzing the planet’s complex interior and “Marsquakes.” But because InSight’s launch means we’re going back to Mars — at least in robotic form — it’s important to use this moment to talk about the cute robots we’ve already had on Mars.
On Monday, I asked Twitter to tell me about their favorite NASA rover and why.
Here’s what scientists and space enthusiasts alike had to say:
Shannon Stirone, Space Journalist
“This is a hard question to answer but if I had to choose I would pick Opportunity. First off, it’s cute. It reminds of me a butterfly robot hybrid. It’s such an anthropomorphized design with its camera’s and its articulating head. But it is scrappy as hell! When you think that this mission was only supposed to last 90 days and we are now on sol 5073! How can you not love a rover that is 14 years past its expiration date? It’s the rover that just won’t quit. Can’t stop, won’t stop! Ain’t nobody gonna hold Oppy down! Not dunes or wind or those damn rocks. Oppy rules.”
Mika McKinnon, Geophysicist and Science Writer
“Sojourner, for portable cuteness I could tuck in my bag and badass namesake.”
Jason Major, Space Writer
“Opportunity because it can’t, it don’t, and it won’t stop.”
Rebecca Boyle, Space Journalist
“It’s Oppy tho, because Oppy is indomitable. It is inimitable, it is an original.”
Lee Billings, Science Journalist, Scientific American
“Gonna say, ‘The next one.’ It’s always ‘the next one.’ Sojourner, Oppy, Spirit and Curiosity all represent an interplanetary version of Zeno’s Paradox. They all got closer to answering what we all want to know — was there past or present life on Mars? — but didn’t ultimately deliver.”
Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor, The Planetary Society
“Opportunity because she’s so good and loyal and she’ll keep going until we give up on her.”
And of course, my personal favorite response:
The verdict: Though it seems the winner here is Opportunity, we can’t help but love all of NASA’s rovers (and landers!) the same. They’re all good robots.