Opportunity Mars Rover Treks Past 41 Kilometers Towards ‘Marathon Valley’

The Opportunity Mars rover is busy on its wheels as it moves towards “Marathon Valley”, a location that could include clay minerals — a sign of past water in the region. After successfully passing 41 kilometers (25.47 miles) in total driving a few weeks ago, the rover is closing out its 11th year on Mars with guided and unguided drives towards that destination.

As of late November, the latest status update available from NASA, the rover is just about a half-mile (1 kilometer) from Marathon Valley and busy collecting measurements on an interesting geologic feature en route. This followed several hundred feet of driving that took place just before.

The rover is now racing to finish its work as the Martian winter approaches. Its science activities are still being disrupted by rover difficulties, according to the Planetary Society, which follows weeks of memory problems that have plagued Opportunity through the fall. But Opportunity is still trekking despite these aging issues and transmitting raw imagery from the surface of Mars, which you can see below.

A rough panorama of the Opportunity rover’s surroundings on Mars based on three images taken on Sol 3,861 in December 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ. Panorama: Elizabeth Howell
A shot across the Martian vista taken by the Opportunity rover on Sol 3,862 in December 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.
Tracks from the Opportunity Mars rover on Sol 3,861 in December 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.
Many of Opportunity’s photos from Mars in early December 2014, such as this one on Sol 3,860, focused on details of the terrain beneath. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.
Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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