You can now see what it would be like to run a marathon on Mars, thanks to a new time-lapse video captured by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.
The images shown in the video were taken by cameras on the rover between January 2004 and April 2015, as Opportunity traveled 26.2 miles from its original landing location inside a crater on a flat plain known as Meridiani Planum.
Opportunity is the longest-running Mars rover. Its mission was originally intended to last 90 Sols (a Sol, one Martian day, is 24 hours and 37 minutes), but it’s still roaming the Red Planet 11 years later.
The 384-pound rover has multiple cameras: a panoramic camera, a navigational camera, and a microscopic imager, which can take high-resolution close-up images of rocks and soils.
Opportunity also has several instruments for analyzing composition and mineralogy, including a miniature thermal emission spectrometer, an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and a rock abrasion tool that exposes fresh material underneath the dust and weathered rinds that coat most Martian rocks.
Over the course of its documented journey, Opportunity has explored two large craters, Victoria and Endeavour, and found multiple signs of water. It also managed to survive several potentially hazardous situations, including an encounter with a sand trap and a bad dust storm.
In July 2014, Opportunity broke an off-world driving record when it hit 25.01 miles, surpassing the previous record set by the Soviet Union’s remote-controlled lunar Lunokhod 2 rover on the moon in 1973.
The Mars Exploration Rover Project, NASA's newer Curiosity Mars rover, and three active NASA Mars orbiters are all part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, which aims to better understand Mars as a dynamic system by studying its environments, climate cycles, geology, and biological potential.
NASA is also currently developing the human spaceflight capabilities needed for a journey to Mars. Some scientists suggest that NASA could get astronauts to orbit Mars by 2033 and onto the Red Planet's surface by 2039.
[Editor's note: The original story misidentified the NASA rover in the headline]