Mars Rover Sets Extraterrestrial Driving Record

TAMPA (CBS Tampa) – The little Mars rover that could has marked another milestone…25 of them to be exact. The 10-year-old Opportunity has clocked 25 miles on the surface of the Red Planet, reports CNet.

That breaks the record for number of miles driven on another planet.

“Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world,” said John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance.”

The rover landed on Mars in 2004, and has spent the last 10 years tirelessly exploring the Martian surface.

Opportunity drove 157 feet along the rim of a crater over the weekend, officially logging 25.01 miles traveled during its mission.

“What is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up,” Callas said, “but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance.”

The previous record was set by the Soviet Union’s remote-controlled Lunokhod 2 rover, which covered a line about 24.2 miles long on the moon in 1973.

“The Lunokhod missions still stand as two signature accomplishments of what I think of as the first golden age of planetary exploration, the 1960s and 1970s,” said Steve Squyres, the principal investigator for NASA’s twin Mars rovers. “We’re in a second golden age now, and what we’ve tried to do on Mars with Spirit and Opportunity has been very much inspired by the accomplishments of the Lunokhod team on the moon so many years ago. It has been a real honor to follow in their historical wheel tracks.”

The next goal for Opportunity…complete 26.2 miles to arrive at the appropriately named “Marathon Valley.”

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