It took NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity three years to travel from Victoria crater to Endeavour crater, and the space agency has released a 3-minute movie of the 13-mile trek, which comprises 309 images taken along the journey.
Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity traveled between September 2008 and August 2011 and the team took the images at the end of each Martian day. The images not only provide historical data over the past three years, but it also gives as sense of the loneliness son the Red Planet. Sometimes the sand tracks go on for miles, but a few craters, now and then, add character to the large expanses of treacherous terrain.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the drive included many detours because of the type of terrain Opportunity encountered along the way. The agency also produced a sound track for the video by using data from Opportunity's accelerometers. The low-frequency data has been sped up 1,000 times in order to yield audible frequencies.
The sound represents the vibrations of the rover while moving on the surface of Mars, said Paolo Bellutta, a rover planner at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.. He plotted many of Opportunity's drives and coordinated production of the video. When the sound is louder, the rover was moving on bedrock. When the sound is softer, the rover was moving on sand.
The trek that Opportunity made to Endeavour is the longest and the most ambitious move to probe on another planet. Its twin, Spirit, also completed a three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004 along with Opportunity. It also continued functioning for years and made several important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life.
Spirit stopped functioning in 2010, but the Opportunity continues its work at Endeavour.
NASA has said it will launch its next-gen rover Curiosity this autumn and it will arrive at Mars' Gale crater by August 2012.
Watch the video below.