Monday, June 6, 2011

30 Kilometers for Opportunity

There's no stopping NASA's Opportunity rover on Mars.

This collage maps the the entire route of the Opportunity Mars Rover. (Click to enlarge) Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell Marco Di Lorenzo, Kenneth Kremer

On June 1, 2011, a short drive of 482 feet (146.8 meters) pushed the rover's odometer past 30 km (18.64 miles). It has taken nearly seven and a half years since the rover landed on Jan 24, 2004. Also keep in mind that this mission only had a 3 month 'warranty', and was expected to travel only a quarter mile.

The rover has managed to rove 50 times the initially planned distance, over 29 times beyond the original design lifetime! An amazing feat that no one involved in the rover missions ever expected.

The rover is still providing an abundance of science and photos of the Martian surface. Opportunity has been crater-hopping tour, and recently imaged the "Skylab" crater, seen below (a 3-D stereo image can be found here).

Opportunity snaps a photo of Skylab Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Informally named after the United States' first space station, the crater is about 9 meters (30 feet) in diameter. The craters appearance suggests it is young for a Martian crater, estimated to have occurred by a meteorite impact in the last 100,00 years. Opportunity passed it on its long-term destination, Endeavour crater, which is about 22 kilometers (14 miles) in diameter. Opportunity is now only about 2 miles away.

Recently, NASA ceased attempting to communicate with Opportunity's twin, Spirit, which has been out of contact since March 2010. More information on the rovers can be found on NASA website.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


19 comments:

Zombie said...

Mars always reminds me of that movie Rocket man. lol.

m.m. said...

This is so impressive!

Makes me think that NASA should have more faith in its space exploits. I'm glad that the rover has new missions to accomplish, given its incredible life span.

Kicking Rocks said...

lmoa...rocket man.....i just got nostalgia'd!

Rob said...

NASA is awesome.

Dave said...

Its fantastic that the Mars Rover is still going strong. I would love to see People walking on Mars surface. I would then be thinking today the Solar System, tomorrow edging out into the Galaxy.

Jay said...

congrats to opportunity and the rover team, 30 km is quite an accomplishment! ...makes you almost forget about that time that the rover got stuck in the sand and had to double back. ;)

Xenototh said...

If only we could get that kind of return from everyone, and not just the robots. :P

BigMike said...

These 2 rovers have amazed me from the day they landed and still today!

ed said...

really cool imagery

thenitefalls said...

It's amazing how technology has gone this far! The rover keeps on roving away!

HiFi said...

That is incredible. Talk about efficient design.

srnajera said...

awesomee :O

The Angry Lurker said...

Like a little energiser bunny that rover, good images.

Ryan said...

SIQ POST BRO!!!!!

Malkavian said...

Rover is Roving, great stuff man, tough luck for spirit but as you said from 3 months to 7 years, he did his job and did it well.

Patti D. said...

I think they tend to underestimate the performance, so if anything goes wrong, they told you so, and if it goes as planned, it's an awesome feat.
What do you think? I'm too paranoid?

Dejch said...

i would go there if i could

phthalo. said...

I still think it's amazing how they're still pumping out data long after their supposed expiry date.

Melanie said...

So glad that this wasn't a failed mission. The general American public does not see the importance of space exploration and that is just sad.

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