NASA Opportunity Rover Breaks Record for Most Miles Traveled on Another Planet
July 29, 2014 1:38 PM
The previous record was held by the Russian Lunokhod 2 rover
NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has officially racked up more miles than any other rover traveling off-Earth.
, Opportunity -- which has been on
since 2004 -- hit a record of just over 25 miles (40 kilometers) on July 27.
"Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
"This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance. But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance."
The previous record was held by the Russian Lunokhod 2 rover, which landed on Earth's moon on Jan. 15, 1973. It drove about 24.2 miles (39 kilometers) in less than five months.
Opportunity drove about 157 feet on July 27, bringing it southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. Here, it has examined clay and sulfate-bearing minerals on the crater’s rim.
According to NASA, the sites have showed evidence of
with less acidic water than those examined at Opportunity’s original landing site.
Opportunity's next big deal will be in 26.2 miles, which is an area called "Marathon Valley." NASA researchers believe clay minerals are exposed close together at this valley site along with steep slopes that could show relationships among different layers.
But Opportunity's spotlight has been stolen in recent years due to NASA's most recent Mars rover,
. Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012 with the intention of exploring the surface for two years.
It uses instruments such as a large robot arm, a weather station, a laser that can vaporize rocks at seven meters, a percussive drill and 4.8kg of plutonium-238 to look through rock samples for signs of life.
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