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A Rover’s Martian Marathon

Two hours, three minutes and two seconds. That is the fastest time established by a human being running the Marathon.

Covering that same distance took 11 years for a 4-wheeled vehicle, which would seem like the worst mileage ever –unless you took into account this marathon was traversed on the surface of another world.

The below clip is a time-lapsed video produced by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, from the POV of the Opportunity rover’s stereoscopic cameras, showing its progression from January 2004 to April of 2015. The rover’s top speed is 0.18 km/h.

By comparison, the Apollo 17 astronauts traveled a total distance of 35.74 km on the lunar surface with the ‘moon buggy’ vehicle, just behind the Soviet Lunokhod 2 rover, who covered a total distance of 39 km in 1973. All this making Opportunity the undisputed long-distance champion in the entire solar system.

And the little guy is still going! Keep in mind its designers were originally counting its mission would only last 90 (Martian) days. Give me THAT kind of sturdiness and reliability over speed any Sol of the week, mister.

Rovin’ rovin’ rovin’
Keep on your explorin’
Of Maaars!
*sung with the Rawhide music*


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