Mars Opportunity rover has been on the surface of the Red Planet for 11 years, and recently, it just hit the 26.2-mile mark. Now you can watch its entire amazing journey.
It’s been 11 years since NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover first touched down on the Red Planet, and now NASA can finally say it’s run a full marathon.
Recently NASA announced that Opportunity has officially traveled 26.2 miles, and to commemorate the event, they’ve released an eight-minute video that allows you to watch the entire journey it has taken in its historic mission on the surface of Mars, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
It’s amazing that the rover is still operating in 2015. When it arrived on Mars along with its twin rover Spirit in 2004, scientists had only planned for it to last for 90 days, but the rovers just kept trucking along, gathering astonishing quantities of data that have enriched scientific knowledge in the last decade about Mars and given clues about the possibility of life once existing there. In recent years the Mars Curiosity rover has landed on the planet and has been able to conduct a detailed search for life with the help of some of the data Opportunity has collected.
The rovers’ ability to handle the Martian harsh climate and difficult terrain amazed scientists. Even Spirit lasted quite a while before finally getting stuck in the sand in 2009, where even then it continued to respond to commands from NASA until 2011. Opportunity, meanwhile, kept on moving and still remains in operation today.
Opportunity has discovered signs of past water on the surface of Mars and even the evidence that the chemistry was right for life at least at one point. The Mars Curiosity rover has been exploring this further, finding even more evidence of this.
How much longer can Opportunity last? That’s the question, as it’s certainly showing its age. The NASA team says it has a damaged wheel as well as a “gimpy shoulder.” It also has an inoperable flash drive, meaning it has to beam data back to Earth each day or it is lost forever.
Right now, Opportunity is on its way to the appropriately named Marathon Valley at the edge of the Endeavor crater that has an interesting reddish rock worth further exploring. Opportunity’s work, it seems, is never done.