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Mars rover Opportunity breaks US off-planet driving record

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity has broken the US record for distance driven on another planet.
Mars nasa panorama 120709Enlarge
Part of the Mars panorama released by NASA that combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. (NASA/Courtesy)

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity has broken the US record for distance driven on another planet.

Opportunity has been rolling around the Red Planet since January 2004, and this week its odometer hit 22.220 miles, pushing past the previous distance record set by the Apollo 17 moon rover in December 1972.

Astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt drove the Apollo rover 22.210 miles.

If Opportunity can keep roving, it has a chance of breaking the off-planet driving record for all Earth vehicles. Currently, the Soviet Union's remote-controlled Lunokhod 2 rover is in the top spot, having traveled 23 miles on the moon in 1973, according to Space.com.

Opportunity’s current mission requires it to drive 1.4 miles to a location on Endeavour Crater called “Solander Point,” so it’s possible that it could surpass the record in a few weeks, according to Discovery News.

More from GlobalPost: Mars rover Curiosity goes on spring break (VIDEO)
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/mars-rover-opportunity-breaks-us-planet-driving-record

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