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Mars Rover Completes Red Planet Marathon

Wednesday April 1, 2015    9:14 AM

We landed on Mars over 11 years ago with our robot mars mission, Opportunity. And what an opportunity is was.

Opportunity landed on the Eagle Crater on January 2004 and accomplished this marathon in 3,968 Martian days or Sols. Available on the NASA site is the path that the vehicle crawled along since 2004. It passed through important Martian craters such as the Eagle, Endurance, Victoria and Endeavour. Last year, the robot became the champion in the longest distance traveled on an extraterrestrial surface by defeating the former Soviet Union's moon rover called Lunokhod 2.

"This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world," John Callas, Opportunity's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

Blasted daily by cosmic radiation, plugging along in 175 degree heat and riding out the blinding, red sands of Martian dust storms, Opportunity has been slowly roaming the Martian surface since January, 2004. Not bad, considering it was originally designed for a short, 90-day mission.

The rover has reached the edge of Endeavor Crater, a place dubbed "Marathon Valley" in honor of Opportunity's endeavor.

And even though it took 11 years, it's still a world record time for a marathon. If the world you're talking about is Mars.

Photo: Photo credit: Mars Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA
Photo 2: Photo credit: Mars Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA