This is a record that is 9 years in the making – after a whopping 9 years of roving around, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity has finally breached the previous limit that was set 40 years ago where extraterrestrial travels on the ground is concerned. Last Thursday marked the moment when the tenacious six-wheeled robot drove 80 meters (263 feet), which so happened to increase the total distance traveled on its odometer since landing on Mars way back in 2004 to 35.760 kilometers (22.220 miles). The previous record holder were NASA’s Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt when, in December 1972, they managed to drive their Lunar Roving Vehicle 35.744 kilometers (22.210 miles) over the lunar surface (and realizing that there were no Transformers spacecraft that crash landed there along the way)..
Of course, this might be NASA’s record-breaking ride at the moment, but it is still relatively far away from the international extraterrestrial land-distance record, falling short by a number of kilometers. In fact, it was in 1973 that the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 remote-controlled moon rover roved around for 37 kilometers (23 miles) across the lunar surface, making it the long time, undisputed champion of distance driving on an extraterrestrial surface.