In the summer of 2003, two rovers began their journeys to Mars at a time when the Red Planet and Mars were the nearest they had been to each other in 60,000 years. The rovers had been built at breakneck speed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But now, there were new pressures. Other nations were flying missions to Mars too. What if they succeeded and JPL didn’t? And the greatest pressure was knowing of NASA’s recent loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew. NASA was in great need of a success. Part of the "JPL and the Space Age" series.