Slow and Steady Mars Rover Finally Completes Red Planet Marathon

Slow and Steady Mars Rover Finally Completes Red Planet Marathon

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A time of 11 years, two months isn’t much to brag about if you’re running the Boston Marathon. It’s pretty good if you’re on Mars.

NASA’s “Opportunity” rover has finally traveled 26.2 miles from its landing site — the length of a standard marathon race — across the surface of Mars.

“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.

Beagle Crater on Mars-ExplorationRover-Cornell_JPL_NASA
Beagle Crater on Mars, Exploration Rover (Cornell, JPL, NASA)

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 credit: Mars Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASA