MAR 25, 2015 06:19 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
SEP 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 04, 2018
This NASA Rocket Will Spend 15 Minutes Gawking at the Sun with X-Ray Vision
NASA is currently eyeballing Friday, September 7th for the third consecutive launch of its Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager (FOXSI), a space vehicle spec...
SEP 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 11, 2018
Asteroid Mining Could Make Deep Space Missions Possible
  Deep space missions are faced with several challenges, including human safety and resource limitations, but asteroid mining could potentially solve...
SEP 13, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 13, 2018
Faster-Than-Light Jets Seen from Neutron Star Merger
Is there anything in the universe that can travel faster than light? A recent report in the journal Nature declared that the movement of a jet of expl...
SEP 25, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 25, 2018
Titan Experiences Dust Storms Just Like Earth and Mars
Dust storms aren’t particularly pleasant, but you should consider yourself lucky if you ever get to experience one. Planetary scientists have long be...
OCT 22, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 22, 2018
Watch NASA's IOP/SS Deluge System Spew 450,000 Gallons of Water in Just 60 Seconds
NASA’s upcoming Space Launch System (SLS) rocket received a ton of hype in recent memory, and for a good reason; it’s set to surpass the legend...
NOV 19, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 19, 2018
Kepler Scientists Reflect on the Now Retired Mission
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope recently ran out of fuel, preventing it from aligning its antenna toward Earth and maintaining communication. NASA knew...
Loading Comments...