Last week New Horizons broke the record for long-distance deep space photography; this week, the Opportunity Rover broke the record for long-distance deep space roving. This rover was designed to last for simply 90 periods on the surface of Mars, but on the morning of February 16, Opportunity completed its 5,000 th sol or’ day’ on Mars( it beats its own record every day !). It’s often referred to as the marathon rover–a testament not only to its robust engineering, but the people back on Earth who’ve expended the last 14 times driving, maintaining, and find loopholes to keep the rover funded and sending back science.
In its 14 years on Mars, Opportunity has driven over 18 miles in Endeavor Crater. In only its first few months on the surface, it had already sent back findings about ancient groundwater on Mars. Currently the rover is driving around Perseverance Valley, trying to determine whether it was water or gust that carved out a narrow, shallow channel in the soil, helping to inform scientists back on Globe about the long and complex history of Mars.
There’s no telling how long long Opportunity will last on Mars, but it’s fair to say that after recurred mission expansions and 14 years of scientific findings, this scrappy rover has fulfilled its mission and then some. Here’s hoping Opportunity will continue to see more Martian sunrises.
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