NASA’s Opportunity rover has broken the record for off-world driving

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A decade after touching down on the martian surface, NASA’s Opportunity rover—which is still ticking, by the way—has achieved a rather unique record: the farthest distance covered by a vehicle off-world. Opportunity breezed past the 25-mile mark just this past Sunday, overtaking the previous record held by the Lunokhod 2, which held the previous record since 1973. A marathon is 26.22 miles, so Opportunity is just about a mile away from surpassing that incredible milestone.

NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars has now boldly gone farther than any vehicle has before on the surface of another world, space agency officials announced July 28. As of July 27, the Opportunity rover has driven 25.01 miles on the Red Planet, NASA officials said. The distance record had been held by the Soviet Union’s remote-controlled Lunokhod 2 rover, which covered 24.2 miles on the moon back in 1973. “Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world,” Opportunity project manager John Callas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. “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.”

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