[Eugene Cernan on the moon:] “Okay, here we go.”
“The front wheels turn. I can’t see the rear ones, but I know the front ones turn, and it does move. Hallelujah.”
The astronauts drove their moon buggy 35.74 kilometers, more than any other NASA off-world rover. That mark stood for more than four decades. But now it belongs to the tiny rover Opportunity, still spinning its wheels on Mars.
On May 16th, Opportunity’s odometer hit 35.76 kilometers to roll into NASA’s record books. The robot is definitely more tortoise than hare—it took Opportunity almost a decade on Mars to break the record that Apollo 17 set in three days on the moon.
Next up: the Soviet Lunokhod 2 moon rover, which tracked some 37 kilometers. So Opportunity now has the U.S. record, but it still has about a kilometer to go to break the world—or should I say solar system—record.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast]