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.