Friday, January 24 is the 10th anniversary of NASA’s Opportunity rover landing on Mars. In a cocoon of airbags it bounced around the surface of the Meridiani plains, came to a stop, deflated the bags, and eventually drove away. It’s still operating. Still making discoveries. Is that an amazing engineering accomplishment? Will Curiosity last that long? That would surprise me, but maybe we’re just that dang good at making space cars.
Opportunity has traveled a total of 24 miles. With 10 years there, I calculated .000027 miles per hour, which is totally unfair since the rover has its long dormant periods, and many stop-and-study periods. NASA says its average speed on a hard surface is 1 centimeter per second. According to one source, snails move at 1.3 centimeters per second.