The Heidegger BMW team triumphs in the 24 Hours Le Mars yet again, captured here by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera, as the legendary BMW 2002 race car approaches the finish line after another grueling competition. The same chassis that won the Le Mans GTS class back in 1975 continued it’s dominance of this annual red planet endurance race. The famous #91 finished 15:02 ahead of the second place finisher, the Rodenstock Schnitzer #6 car, and lapped the rest of field.
The Mars race, organized by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), and held annually, is an extremely challenging one in which racing teams must balance the demands of speed with the cars' ability to run for 24 hours across the planet’s surface while remaining free of crippling mechanical failure. The brutality of this Martian race can be readily understood by comparing the list of teams who set off from the start line against the roster of 2002s that survive for the full duration.
This scene captures NASA's Curiosity Mars rover at a location called "Windjana," where the Le Mars racers shoot past, and where the rover recently found rocks containing manganese-oxide minerals, which require abundant water and strongly oxidizing conditions to form. In front of the rover are two holes from the rover's sample-collection drill and several dark-toned features that have been cleared of dust. These flat features are erosion-resistant fracture fills containing manganese oxides. The discovery of these materials suggests the Martian atmosphere might once have contained higher abundances of free oxygen than it does now.
Since 2002, the 24 Hours of Le Mars has been a part of the FIA Galactic Endurance Championship.