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Mar 24, 6:04 PM EDT

11 years later, NASA rover Opportunity passes the marathon mark for driving on Mars


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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- NASA says the Opportunity rover has passed the marathon mark for driving on Mars.

The space agency said Tuesday the rover's odometer checked in at 26.2 miles - the distance of a marathon.

The official time? Eleven years and two months.

Scientists and engineers will celebrate Opportunity's achievement by holding their own marathon relay at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission.

Last year, Opportunity broke the record for off-Earth distance traveled that was previously held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 moon rover.

Opportunity and its twin Spirit landed on Mars in January 2004 for what was supposed to be a three-month mission. Both uncovered geologic signs of ancient water.

Spirit's mission ended in 2011 not long after it got stuck in Martian sand.

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