The Lunokhod 2, the second Soviet remote-controlled unmanned rover, photographed in 1973© RIA Novosti.
WASHINGTON, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - The 40-year-old distance record set by the Soviet-era Lunokhod 2 rover for driving on the surface of a celestial body other than the Earth looks safe for the time-being after images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) confirmed what Russian researchers have been saying for months: the Soviet rover went 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) farther on the moon than previously thought.
LRO images showed that Lunokhod 2 covered 26 miles (42 kilometers) on the moon’s surface in 1973, not 23 miles (37 kilometers) as previously thought, the website space.com reported.
Russian researchers, led by Irina Karachevtseva of Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography, have been saying for months that Lunokhod 2 did the equivalent of a marathon on the moon. The Russian calculations prompted new scrutiny as NASA announced last month that its Mars rover Opportunity had covered 22.22 miles (35.76 kilometers) in the nine years that it has been on the Red Planet, coming close to breaking what was long held to be the record of 23 miles set by Lunokhod 2.
At a rate of speed of around 2.5 miles a year, it would take Opportunity a year and a half to match Lunokhod 2’s newly confirmed record.
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