Tags: rover | distance | record | mars

Rover Distance Record: NASA Cruiser Travels More Than 25 Miles on Mars

Image: Rover Distance Record: NASA Cruiser Travels More Than 25 Miles on Mars
May 2014, the Mars rover selfie. (EPA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS /Landov)

By    |   Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 09:02 AM

NASA's Mars rover set a new distance record over the weekend after traveling more than 25 miles on the Red Planet, surpassing the previous figures for extraterrestrial surface travel set in 1973 by a Soviet moon rover.

The rover, Opportunity, landed on Mars in January 2004, just weeks after its twin rover, Spirit, which is now defunct. After its landing Opportunity was later joined by newer, larger probes like Curiosity.

"Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world," John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a NASA blog post this week.

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"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."

Just this year, Opportunity discovered evidence of fresh water pooling on the surface of Mars, corroborating evidence found by Curiosity on the opposite side of the planet, Reuters reported. It has also gathered clay samples near the Endeavor Crater, finding a plethora of sulfite-bearing minerals.

Scientists plan to keep the six-wheeled Opportunity, which is roughly the size of a gold cart, headed toward a nearby valley. They've dubbed the next major exploration site "Marathon Valley" because the rover will reach a total distance of 26.2 miles — the length of a marathon — when it arrives.

"Observations from the spacecraft orbiting Mars suggest several clay minerals are exposed close together at this valley site, surrounded by steep slopes where the relationships among different layers may be evident," NASA wrote.

The Mars Exploration Rover Project, which includes all the rovers on Mars, is one piece of a master plan to launch a human mission to the Red Planet in the 2030s.

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NASA's Mars rover set a new distance record over the weekend after traveling more than 25 miles on the Red Planet, surpassing the previous figures for extraterrestrial surface travel set in 1973 by a Soviet moon rover.
rover, distance, record, mars
336
2014-02-30
Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 09:02 AM
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