The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity launched in July 2003 and has traveled 26.219 miles on the Red Planet’s surface. That’s the distance of a marathon–a long, satisfying marathon that took 11 years and two months to complete. Speed, of course, is not the point of the Mars Rover. It’s supposed to take its time, look around, stop and smell the roses–if it can find any!
“This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world,” said John Callas, Opportunity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California in a statement. The closest competitor for traveling on a surface other than earth was the former Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover, but Opportunity beat its record last year. (And the Lunokhod was merely traversing the moon.) The Mars Rover has surprised and delighted NASA with its longevity, outlasting even the most optimistic estimates. It’s probably looking around right now for a Gatorade.