NASA's Mars Opportunity Rover breaks record for off-Earth traveling

By Daniel S Levine,

NASA’s Opportunity Rover, which has been roaming Mars for a decade, has now broken the record for off-Earth traveling. Since it landed on the Red Planet in 2004, it has traveled 25 miles.

The Rover broke the record on July 27, when it traveled along the western rim of the Endeavour Crater, traveling 157 feet. That puts Opportunity’s total traveling distance at 25.01 miles, NASA said in a statement.

When the Rover reaches marathon distance - 26.2 miles - it will reach “Marathon Valley,” where it can study mixes of different layers and clay materials in the area.

“Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world,” Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said in a statement. “This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance. But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance.”

The previous record was held by the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2, which drove 24.2 miles in less than five months in 1973 on the moon’s surface.

Despite losing the record, scientists still recognize Lunokhod 2 and the scientists behind it as major achievers in space exploration. According to Space.com, the Opportunity team has even named a small crater after the Russian vehicle.

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