Mars Rover Sets Off-Earth Total Driving Record

Image: Mars Rover Sets Off-Earth Total Driving Record (NASA/UPI/Landov)

Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 09:25 AM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, working on Mars since January 2004, has set a new record, passing 25 miles of total driving, National Aeronautic and Space Administration officials announced Monday.

It was a 157-foot drive completed on July 27 that broke the previous record, held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover, which landed on Earth's moon Jan. 15, 1973. It drove about 24.2 miles in less than five months.

"Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world," Mars Exploration Rover project manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a news release. "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."

NASA has archived many of the thousands of photos the Mars Opportunity and other rovers have transmitted to Earth since the mission began.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill that established NASA on July 29, 1958, so the announcement of the record-breaking drive came on the agency's birthday.

The Mars Rover has been moving along the western rim of Endeavour Crater, where it arrived in 2011. In February, NASA revealed that a team of scientists at Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., discovered evidence of past water movement throughout a Martian meteorite, reviving debate among scientists about the existence of life on the Red Planet.

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