This artist's rendering provided by NASA shows the Mars rover, Opportunity, on the surface of Mars.
This artist's rendering provided by NASA shows the Mars rover, Opportunity, on the surface of Mars.
This artist’s rendering provided by NASA shows the Mars rover, Opportunity, on the surface of Mars.

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity, originally designed to travel only about one kilometer, has set a new record in driving on another planet.

The latest journey of 48 meters, made on Sunday, July 27, took Opportunity 40 kilometers away from the place where it landed in 2004.

The previous record was held by the Russian rover Lunokhod 2, which traveled about 39 kilometers on the Moon, in 1973.

NASA scientists plan to drive Opportunity to a nearby site called “Marathon Valley,” where they want to explore layers of clay minerals. If it reaches that site, Opportunity would have traveled the distance of a marathon, or 42.2 kilometers.

The expected lifetime of Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, was only 90 days. While NASA lost contact with Spirit in March 2010, Opportunity is still operating, regularly sending pictures and scientific data back to Earth.

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