First View of NASA’s Opportunity Marathon on Mars Is an Outer Space Roadtrip

Panorama taken on the rim of Erebus crater. The rover's solar panels are seen on the lower half 1 photo
Photo: NASA
NASA has recently released an 8-minute video of Opportunity’s 11-year mission on Mars. The clip is comprising of pictures the space rover took throughout the time, showing the places it has been on the Red Planet on a trip that has recently reached 26.2 miles long.
To understand the proportions of what we’re looking at we need to take a detour throughout the specs around it. According to the Space Agency, the rover is working about half a football field’s length from entering the western end of “Marathon Valley,” a notch in the raised rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter. Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004 and has been studying the rim of Endeavour since 2011.

There are tons of scientific information that NASA details quite accurately on the mission’s website, but this video is a good reminder of how big of a deal this rover’s trip truly is. As opposed to its fellow co-work, Spirit, who functioned until getting stuck in 2009 and ceased communications in 2010, Opportunity remains active. As of 2015, the robotic rover has already exceeded its operating plan by 11 years, 72 days (in Earth time).

The small, solar-power vehicle was that well constructed it has continued to move, gather scientific observations, and report back to Earth for over 40 times its designed lifespan. Throughout its existence on the Red Planet, it has successfully investigated soil and rock samples and taken panoramic photo of its landing site. Its sampling allowed scientists to theorize about the possibility that the planet’s surface once had water.

Another great discovery was Head Shield Rock, an intact meteorite on the surface of Mars. At the rim of the Endeavour crater we mentioned earlier, the rover detected phyllosilicates. The rover analyzed the rocks with its instruments to check this sighting on the ground.

Nevertheless, NASA’s rover has been successful so far with the mission’s primary scientific goals, which are to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars.

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