by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 24, 2017
A new observation from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captures the landing platform that the rover Opportunity left behind in Eagle Crater more than 13 years and 27 miles (or 44 kilometers) ago. A series of bounces and tumbles after initial touchdown plunked the airbag-cushioned lander into the crater, a mere 72 feet (22 meters) across, on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time (Jan. 24, PST).
The scene includes Eagle Crater and Opportunity's nearby parachute and backshell, from the April 10, 2017, observation by MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
This is the first color view from HiRISE of the Eagle Crater scene. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began orbiting Mars more than two years after Opportunity's landing. One of the first images from HiRISE in 2006 showed Opportunity at the rim of a much larger crater, Victoria, nearly 4 miles (about 6 kilometers) south of the landing site. The camera also recorded a monochrome view of Eagle Crater that year.
Eagle Crater is at the upper right of the new image. The lander platform's job was finished once the rover rolled off it. The parachute and backshell are at the lower left.
The smattering of small craters on a broad plain is a reminder of the amazement expressed in 2004 about Opportunity achieving a "hole-in-one" landing. When the lander's petals opened and Opportunity sent home its first look at its surroundings, it provided the first-ever close-by view of sedimentary rocks on Mars, in Eagle's rim.
After leaving the lander and exploring Eagle Crater, the rover recorded a look-back view before departing the scene. Opportunity remains active more than 13 years later.
HiRISE, the most powerful telescope ever sent to Mars, is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and was built by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado.
Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 20, 2017
NASA's senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is departing "Cape Tribulation," a crater-rim segment it has explored since late 2014, southbound for its next destination, "Perseverance Valley." The rover team plans observations in the valley to determine what type of fluid activity carved it billions of years ago: water, wind, or flowing debris lubricated by water. A color panorama of a ridge call ... read more
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