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NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover Celebrates First Extraterrestrial Marathon

It may have taken 11 years but the Mars Opportunity rover has officially logged enough terrain to qualify as a marathon runner. Yes, the little rover that could, which touched down on the surface of the Red Planet in January of 2004 has just completed the very first extraterrestrial marathon.
The official run time (of 26.219 miles) is 11 years and 2 months.
Opportunity project manager John Callas comments, “This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world.”
He goes on to explain that the rover team has plans to complete a marathon-length run relay at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory back on Earth as a celebration in honor of this momentous the accomplishment.Mars Rover OpportunityCallas also goes on to share some personal insights on the matter: “[Opportunity] has been amazingly healthy considering how much we’ve used it—we thought the mobility system would have worn out a long time ago but it’s in great health. But anything could fail at any moment…it’s like you have an aging parent, that is otherwise in good health—maybe they go for a little job every day, play tennis each day—but you never know, they could have a massive stroke right in the middle of the night. So we’re always cautious that something could happen.”
Indeed, if there is anything that we have learned, in America, about space travel it is that we should always expect the unexpected; after all, this is completely new territory we are exploring.
Opportunity’s partner in crime, Spirit, gave up in 2010, but fortunately the project has been able to use it as a research station. And while Opportunity may be having trouble retaining the data it gathers—you may recall its flash memory wore down a few months ago—it continues to do the job it was sent forth to do.

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