NASA's Mars Opportunity rover holds 'out of this world' distance record
NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has now become the first vehicle to travel farther than any other man made vehicle on the surface of another world.
Opportunity, which landed on the Red Planet in 2004, now holds the off-Earth roving distance record after accruing 25 miles of driving. The previous record was held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover.
As Opportunity neared the mileage record at the beginning of 2014, the rover team chose the name Lunokhod 2 for a crater about 20 feet in diameter on the outer slope of Endeavour's rim on Mars.
John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said that this was remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance.
If the rover could continue to operate the distance of a marathon, 26.2 miles, it would approach the next major investigation site mission scientists have dubbed "Marathon Valley." Observations from spacecraft orbiting Mars suggested several clay minerals were exposed close together at this valley site, surrounded by steep slopes where the relationships among different layers might be evident.
(Posted on 29-07-2014)