The Little Rover that could

270px-Nasa_mer_daffyThis week the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity broke the off-world driving record previously held by the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover. Opportunity which has been operating on the surface of Mars for 10 years, 6 months has now traveled more than 25.01 miles.

Opportunity and it’s twin Spirit were originally expected to last 90 sol’s (Martian days), and while Spirit is no longer operating both far exceeded that goal.  Spirit eventually stopped communicating after 2623 sols having traveled 4.8 miles.

123624main_dust_devil_mars_webBoth rovers are solar powered and have benefited multiple times by dust devils on the surface of Mars which have cleaned off the solar panels from the Martian dust that accumulates on them.  The image to the right show one of the dust devils captured by the rover as it passed nearby.

At this point we don’t know how long Opportunity will last, however each day it does brings us more scientific knowledge of Mars and also shows just how robust well designed robot’s can be.

Detailed maps of where the rovers have been during their time on Mars can be found here.

For more on Opportunity and to see the latest status report check out the mission page here.



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