Beating the off-Earth roving distance record set by Russian Lunokhod 2 rover, US space agency NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has successfully covered a distance of 25 miles on Mars.
Opportunity rover landed on the Martian surface in 2004 and now holds the world record of going farther than Earth to the surface of another world.
“Opportunity rover has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle in another world off the Earth,” said John Callas of Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager 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,” Callas said.
In 2011, the Opportunity rover had covered over 20 miles and by July 27 this year its total travelled area was at 25.01 miles.
Astronauts say we hope that the rover maintains to move ahead with the same speed. With that pace, Opportunity rover will reach its next major investigation site, ‘Marathon Valley’.
Lunokhod 2 rover landed on moon on January 15, 1973 and made record of travelling 24.2 miles.
Lead researchers for NASA’s twin Mars rovers, Opportunity and Spirit, Steve Squyres, said, “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 ’70s.”
When the NASA’s rover began inching closer towards the 24.2-mile record, the astronaut team, who was working on the rover, decided to honor the initial accomplishment by naming a crater Lunokhod 2.
The Opportunity Mars rover is exploring more and more about the Martian surface and its environment, in search of life on the Red Planet.