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Watch the Mars Opportunity rover run an 11-year marathon in this time-lapse

Watch the Mars Opportunity rover run an 11-year marathon in this time-lapse


26.2 miles in eight minutes is pretty fast

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The Mars Curiosity rover has received much press for its dramatic landing and for unearthing evidence of water that it's easy to forget that another rover still roams the red planet. (Younger siblings get all the attention.) But earlier this year we got word that the 11-year-old Opportunity rover completed an entire marathon's worth of trekking across the surface of Mars. Now, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released an epic time-lapse video that chronicles the entire trip, from when Opportunity landed in late January of 2004 to when the rover passed the 26.2-mile mark in April of this year.

The images on the left were taken from the hazard-avoidance camera, or hazcam, and a map on the right shows Opportunity's twisted path. While the audio sounds like that of a muffled GoPro, the video states that it's actually an interpretation of the vibration measurements made by the rover. Soft sounds signify smooth terrain while louder noises indicate there was some off-roading going on.

Have you ever done science while running a marathon?

The video is over eight minutes long, but the 11 years it depicts seem to fly by in an eye blink. Pay close attention and you can watch the rover revisited its deflated landing craft, investigate its own discarded heat shield, get stuck in a sand dune for two months, and explore all sorts of bizarre Martian terrain.

And since it's so much fun to see what happens to these rovers over time on the dust bowl that is Mars, here's what Opportunity looked like when it landed in 2004 compared to what it looked like in 2014: