Feature

Mars' resilient rovers, and more

The NASA probes Spirit and Opportunity enjoy their golden years.

Mars' resilient rovers
The NASA probes Spirit and Opportunity, which were originally expected to operate on the surface of Mars for three months, are still working after five years. The two rovers alit on the Red Planet in early January 2004; since then, they have covered more than 13 miles and sent 250,000 images back to Earth. NASA engineers now plan to direct the probes to four new sites in the coming months. “These rovers are incredibly resilient, considering the extreme environment the hardware experiences every day,” said John Callas of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Denzel Washington's $1 million gift
In 1935, the debate team of Wiley College, a small, black school in Texas, unexpectedly defeated the national champions, the University of Southern California. The 2007 film The Great Debaters revived interest in the historic event and inspired other schools to challenge Wiley’s team. But, in fact, the team ceased to exist shortly after World War II. Now, a $1 million gift from Denzel Washington, the movie’s director and star, is providing scholarships for students to attend Wiley and join a newly reconstituted team. “We want to once again put Wiley on the map as a force to be reckoned with,” said debate coach Shannon LaBove.

Box of Bunny crackers yields $10,000
When Debra Rogoff bought a box of Annie’s Sour Cream and Onion Cheddar Bunny crackers at a Whole Foods store in Tustin, Calif., she found something unexpected inside—an envelope stuffed with $10,000 in cash. “We just thought, ‘This is someone’s money.’ We would never feel good about spending it.” So her family turned the find over to the police. The money was soon traced to an elderly woman who had lost faith in her bank and decided to keep her life savings in the box, which she mistakenly returned to the store. The Rogoffs haven’t received a reward, but Whole Foods has given them a new box of crackers.

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