Tag Archives: Opportunity

NASA’s Opportunity Rover Just Set the Off-World Driving Distance Record

NASA’s Opportunity rover landed on the surface of Mars in January of 2004. As of Sunday (July 26), the Opportunity rover had driven a total distance of 25 miles (40 kilometers).

Opportunity took the top spot in total off-world distance traveled by surpassing Russia’s Lunokhod 2 lunar rover, which traveled a total distance of 39 kilometers across the surface of the moon between January and May of 1973.

The Russian rover helped to bring about a golden age of space exploration in the 70s. As a sign of respect, the Opportunity rover’s operators decided to commemorate the Russian rover by naming one of the first craters they encountered after it.

Tracing the path that Opportunity has taken since it landed on Mars in 2004. On the left rim of the large Endeavor Crater, you can see the Lunokhod 2 crater. Click to enlarge (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS)

The craziest part of this record is that the Opportunity rover was only expected to travel a short distance when it was first sent to Mars in 2004. Here’s John Callas, who manages the Mars Exploration Project at NASA’s Jet-Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California:

“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.”

The Opportunity rover is collecting data on Mars as part of a long-term plan for a manned mission to the planet around the year 2030.

The infographic below compares the distances driven by different rovers throughout the years. Click to enlarge (courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech):

Read the original story from NASA here.


Incredible: NASA’s “3-Month Mission” Rover Now Clocks 10 Years on Mars Collecting Data (Video)

NASA’s Rover named Opportunity, better known as “Oppy”, has been on Mars collecting data for nearly ten years now. This is pretty incredible considering the rover was built intending to be operational for only three months!

The six wheeled rover landed on Mars on January 25th, 2004 and is still doing work in 2014. In the past decade it has covered over 38 km (approx. 23 miles) of surface and returned over 170,000 images back to Earth.

NASA is confident that despite the long but extremely impressive run and a few degrading components, “Oppy” still will be running for a while longer.

According to NASA

The right-front steering actuator is jammed and no longer steers. The same wheel also shows elevated currents, the robotic arm has some arthritis, and two of the scientific instruments no longer function. But in the past year, almost nothing has changed in the health and status of the rover.”

Despite the minor issues the rover has faced, Oppy has made all types of impressive findings in its time on Mars. One notable find was evidence of clay minerals, which only form in rocks that have been substantially altered by water.

According to CNN

It has found evidence for clay minerals, which form in rocks that have been substantially altered by water. In one place, these clays are of an iron-rich variety called smectite. In another location, Opportunity sees an aluminium-rich variety called montmorillonite. They are contained in what are among the oldest rocks the rover has yet seen on the planet, probably four billion-plus years old.”

This is just further evidence, says the rover’s deputy principal investigator, Ray Arvidson, that Mars was warmer and wetter in its distant past and had the potential, therefore, to support microbial life.

Check Out the full story here.