US space agency NASA has announced that its Opportunity Mars rover has broken the world record of any other vehicle including Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover (remote-controlled) on going farther than Earth to the surface of another world.
John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, “Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world.”
After landing on the Red Planet in 2004, the Opportunity rover has successfully covered 25 miles. With this development, it has broken Lunokhod 2 rover’s off-Earth roving distance world record.
“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.
According to NASA, the Opportunity rover has travelled 25.01 miles on Mars on July 27 (Sunday). In 1973, Lunokhod 2 rover covered 24.2 miles on the moon, approximately five months after landing on Earth’s satellite on January 15 in the same year.
At the time when the Opportunity Mars started inching towards the 24.2-mile record, the NASA team working on the rover decided to honor the initial accomplishment by naming a crater Lunokhod 2.
Steve Squyres, lead investigator for NASA’s twin Mars rovers, Opportunity and Spirit, 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.”
Meanwhile, the NASA said that its Mars rover is still exploring the surface and environment of the red planet. NASA is carrying exploration work on the Martian surface to find for crucial leads suggesting the planet supports life. The US space agency is hoping to send humans on a mission by the 2030s. NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is currently operational on the Martian surface in search of life.