Illustration of the Opportunity rover on Mars. (NASA/JPL)
Today marks the start of the “teen years” on Mars for NASA’s Opportunity rover — it’s been busy exploring, studying, and traveling across the planet’s surface for 13 years now and still going strong! Launched July 7, 2003, the rover is currently in its 4,624th sol of operations — pretty impressive for a mission that was initially only planned to last 90 days. (I suppose it’s OK if Opportunity wants to get a little bit of an attitude now, seeing as she’s such an overachieving teenager!) The video below was recently released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and features some of the talented engineers and scientists who work with the Opportunity rover on a daily basis.
Opportunity is currently studying the surface of Mars along the western slopes of the 14-mile-wide Endeavour Crater, just south of an area called “Marathon Valley” — named because when the rover came upon it, it had successfully traveled a bit over 26.2 miles across Mars since its landing on Jan. 25, 2004 (EST/UTC). Opportunity is the record-holder for off-world long distance driving!
Opportunity’s view into Endeavour Crater on Aug. 30, 2016. (NASA / JPL-CALTECH ...