The Opportunity rover on Mars has trekked a Marathon long journey

The Opportunity rover reaches yet another milestone:

NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover Finishes Marathon,
Clocks in at Just Over 11 Years

15-049c[1](Click for large image)
This illustration depicts some highlights along the route as NASA’s Mars
Exploration Rover Opportunity drove as far as a marathon race during the
first 11 years and two months after its January 2004 landing in Eagle
Crater. The vehicle surpassed marathon distance of 26.219 miles (42.195 km)
with a drive completed on March 24, 2015, during the 3,968th Martian day,
or sol, of Opportunity’s work on Mars. For this map, north is on the left. 
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./USGS/Arizona State Univ.

There was no tape draped across a finish line, but NASA is celebrating a win. The agency’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity completed its first Red Planet marathon Tuesday — 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers) – with a finish time of roughly 11 years and two months.

“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 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “A first time happens only once.”

The rover team at JPL plans a marathon-length relay run at the laboratory next week to celebrate.


(Click for large image)
This map shows the southward path driven by Opportunity from late 
December 2014 until it passed marathon distance on March 24, 2015,
during the 3,968th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work
on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The long-lived rover surpassed the marathon mark during a drive of 153 feet (46.5 meters). Last year, Opportunity became the long-distance champion of all off-Earth vehicles when it topped the previous record set by the former Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 moon rover.

“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 principal investigator at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “Still, running a marathon on Mars feels pretty cool.”

Opportunity’s original three-month prime mission in 2004 yielded evidence of environments with liquid water soaking the ground and flowing on planet’s surface. As the rover continued to operate far beyond expectations for its lifespan, scientists chose the rim of Endeavour Crater as a long-term destination. Since 2011, examinations of Endeavour’s rim have provided information about ancient wet conditions less acidic, and more favorable for microbial life, than the environment that left clues found earlier in the mission.

15-049b[1](Click for large image)
This map shows the rover’s entire traverse from landing to that point.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS

JPL manages the Mars rover projects for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Mars Exploration Rover Project, NASA’s newer Curiosity Mars rover, and three active NASA Mars orbiters are part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, which seeks to characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. In parallel, NASA is developing the human spaceflight capabilities needed for its journey to Mars.

For more information about Opportunity, visit

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