Heroes

A NASA rover completed a marathon on Mars — and won big for humanity.

It took about 11 years. But this little-Mars-rover-that-could did it!

A NASA rover completed a marathon on Mars — and won big for humanity.
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Universal Pictures: Everest

The first marathon is said to have been run by Pheidippides in the ancient Greek times.

It was amazing ... except that he died afterward.


Poor Pheidippides. He ran all the way from Marathon to Athens to be like, "GREECE WON!" and then he died. Image by Luc-Olivier Merson/Wikimedia Commons.

That was the first marathon run on Earth.

Being a species that loves extreme sports, we chose to make the marathon A THING after that.

Marathons (FYI, the name "marathon" comes from the Greek city that served as the starting point) represent stamina, achievement, a healthy obsession with "good proteins," and some of the most fun you'll ever have cheering on strangers in your life!

That's me on the right, at the halfway point of the New York City marathon a few years ago. Photo via Chad Leathers.

Here's the first full marathon ever run on not-Earth.

Look at its little wheels! GIF via NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.

More specifically, that is footage of the first marathon on MARS!

It took 11 years and 20 months to maneuver the 26.2 miles needed to complete a marathon on the Red Planet. And the thing that ran it — a NASA rover named Opportunity — didn't even die!

It's name is Opportunity?! NASA can name things! Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona.

PROGRESS!

This was the first marathon to be run by a creation of Earthlings NOT on Earth.

Just reading that sentence makes me feel space emotions.

Human achievement ... on Mars? GIF via "Cosmos."

What is this human creation that's been solitarily rolling around Mars like Wall-E?

It's a rover that landed 11 years ago on Jan. 24, 2004. NASA has found possible signs of clay minerals around the area where Opportunity landed, and they plan to send the rover to investigate soon. Signs of clay minerals are an indication that there was once a wet environment ... aka Opportunity could be next to discover more water on Mars!

The extraterrestrial marathon represents the ability of humans to make a mark of our culture ... one of stamina, achievement, and community ... on a planet we haven't even been to.

For the first time. EVER. Cool.

The scientists who've been following Opportunity are quick to assert that this rover is there to open new science and space exploration doors, not to set distance records. However, Steve Squyres, a researcher at Cornell University did say, "Still, running a marathon on Mars feels pretty cool."

First the marathon ... who knows what's next!

Martians???? Probably not, but what's next is definitely going to be exciting. GIF via "Sesame Street."

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

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This article originally appeared on 08.30.14


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