Remember the Great Space Race to the moon, that Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to get there first?
Well, decades after the Cold War has long since cooled off, and even longer since the last fiery roar of Apollo and Vostok rockets have been quieted, in the midst of the silence of history we may hear a faint sound: a barely audible whir of electric motors and metal wheels slowly and softly rolling over the dusty ground of a very long and wild race track.
NASA's enduring Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, which has been traipsing about and exploring Mars' Meridiani Planum for nearly ten years, recently broke a record for distance traveled on the surface of another world.
The previous record-holder of this extraterrestrial marathon is the manned Lunar Rover of Apollo 17 driven by Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt over 40 years ago—back when the Cold War and Great Space Race were game on. In December of 1972, they completed a total distance of 22.21 miles across the surface of the Moon.
On a day in May this year, Opportunity put in an 88-yard-dash and its odometer clicked over to 22.22.