MAR 25, 2015 6:19 AM PDT

Mars Rover Opportunity Completes a Marathon

It's official, Mars rover Opportunity has completed a marathon on Mars!

Although there was no cheering crowd at the Martian finishing line, there were no doubt cheers from mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., when the veteran Mars explorer reached 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers) on the odometer, on March 24, becoming the first space mission ever to complete the equivalent distance of an Olympic marathon on another planet.
A special effects rendering of Opportunity on the Martian surface.
The momentous distance was reached after Opportunity carried out a 46.5 meter drive into "Marathon Valley."
"This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world," said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at JPL. "A first time happens only once.

It took the rover 11 years and two months to complete the trek across Meridiani Planum since its landing on Jan. 25, 2004. At the time, the rover (and its twin sister Spirit) had a primary mission of only 3 months. 11 years later, though it is showing inevitable signs of aging, the rover is still doing groundbreaking science, helping us to piece together Mars' ancient habitability.

"This mission isn't about setting distance records, of course; it's about making scientific discoveries on Mars and inspiring future explorers to achieve even more," said Steve Squyres, Opportunity's principal investigator at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. "Still, running a marathon on Mars feels pretty cool."

This milestone is symbolic, but it's an important one. It's a testament to the incredible engineering and science that has gone into Opportunity and her mission. The rover has been suffering some age-related problems of late, but it hasn't stopped this ingenious mission from rolling onward and conquering a grueling Martian marathon.

(Source: Discovery News)
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
NOV 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Find Human Brain Shares Structure with Universe
NOV 17, 2020
Researchers Find Human Brain Shares Structure with Universe
Astrophysicist Franco Vazza from the University of Bologna, and Alberto Felett, a neurosurgeon at the University of Vero ...
DEC 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
It's Not a Quasar, It's a Blazar
DEC 23, 2020
It's Not a Quasar, It's a Blazar
This image is an artist's concept of what a blazar might look like, by NASA. Check out actual shots of the blazar in the ...
JAN 04, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Did Intelligent Civilizations Roam Our Galaxy 5 Billion Years Ago?
JAN 04, 2021
Did Intelligent Civilizations Roam Our Galaxy 5 Billion Years Ago?
Researchers have found that there were likely many intelligent alien civilizations sprawled across our galaxy billions o ...
JAN 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Settling the Debate Over the Age of the Universe
JAN 06, 2021
Settling the Debate Over the Age of the Universe
Astronomers have used powerful telescopes high in the Atacama desert to evaluate estimates of the age of the universe. T ...
MAR 17, 2021
Microbiology
Novel Bacteria Discovered on Space Station
MAR 17, 2021
Novel Bacteria Discovered on Space Station
Scientists have known that wherever humans go, we carry microorganisms with us, and the International Space Station is n ...
MAY 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
What is the Potential for Life on Mars?
MAY 17, 2021
What is the Potential for Life on Mars?
International organizations are pouring in billions of dollars to find signs of life on Mars. While some evidence points ...
Loading Comments...