Mars Opportunity Rover Ran A Marathon ... But It Took 11 Years

The Mars rover Opportunity can now claim that it has completed a marathon, but its finish time is nothing to brag about.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory released this video last week with a time-lapse from the rover's point of view as it traversed 26.2 miles of the barren Martian landscape between January 2004 and April 2015.

The rover clearly didn't set any speed records on its journey, but the distance it has traveled and the images it captured are important.

Opportunity set a record last July for the longest distance traveled off Earth. The previous record was set in 1973 by a Soviet lunar rover that traveled 24.2 miles.

"This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance," Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas said in a statement about the record last year.

NASA landed twin rovers Opportunity and Spirit on Mars in 2004. Both outlasted their intended 90-day lifespans, but the agency lost contact with Spirit in 2010.



NASA's Mars Rover Anniversary PICS