7 Years of Opportunity on Mars and a Science Bonanza

The 7 Year Long Journey of Opportunity. This collage of three maps (left, top) and a new close up panoramic mosaic of Santa Maria crater on Sol 2464, Dec 29, 2010 (bottom right) shows the route traversed by the Opportunity Mars rover during her nearly 7 year long overland expedition across the Meridiani Planum region of Mars to her current location at Santa Maria Crater. Opportunity landed inside Eagle crater on Jan. 24, 2004 and has driven over 26 km (16 mi) since then. Opportunity arrived at the western rim of Santa Maria Crater on Dec. 16, 2010 on Sol 2451 and is driving around the edge in a counterclockwise direction on her way to the huge 22 km wide Endeavour crater which shows signatures of water bearing minerals. The rover is visible in top map taken from orbit by MRO spacecraft. The Panoramic Mosaic of Santa Maria Crater on Sol 2464 – at bottom right – was stitched together from raw images taken by Opportunity’s navigation camera. The rover was about 5 meters from the rim and nearing water bearing materials located roughly at the right of this photomosaic. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell Marco Di Lorenzo, Kenneth Kremer See below some of the best images taken by Opportunity during her 7 Year Martian Trek

Today, Jan. 24, 2011 marks the 7th anniversary of the safe landing of the Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover (MER). Opportunity will soon celebrate another remarkable milestone – 2500 Sols, or Martian days, roving the red planet. Together with her twin sister Spirit, the rovers surely rank as one of the greatest feats in the annals of space exploration.

“No one expected Spirit or Opportunity to go on this long,” says Ray Arvidson in an interview from Washington University in St. Louis. Arvidson is the deputy principal investigator for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

7 Years ago today on Jan. 24, 2004, NASA’s Opportunity rover daringly smashed into the Martian atmosphere (…) Read the rest of 7 Years of Opportunity on Mars and a Science Bonanza (1,517 words)

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(C) Ken Kremer for Universe Today, 2011. | Permalink | No comment | Add to del.icio.us Post

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