A rovin’ on Mars

WHEN NASA’S MARS ROVER Opportunity touched down on the Red Planet on January 25, 2004—three weeks after its twin, Spirit, landed—the official requirement was that it would need to last 90 days to give scientists enough time to do their most important investigations.

Well, it’s now more than seven years later and the plucky rover shows no signs of giving up.

Having travelled more than 27 kilometres at an average speed of around 36 metres per hour, Opportunity has explored many and varied places near its landing site on Meridiani Planum.

For the past couple of years, it has been slowly making its way toward its new destination, Endeavour Crater—a 22-kilometre-wide impact crater that scientists want to investigate. Most recently, Opportunity has been near Santa Maria crater—see our earlier story—and has another six kilometres to go before it reaches Endeavour.

The video above (which doesn’t have any audio) is courtesy of NASA, and shows just how far the intrepid little rover travelled between January 2004 and January 2011.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / JPL.

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