NASA Revisits The Site Where Mars Opportunity Rover Landed 13 Years Ago

Posted: Apr 22 2017, 8:45am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 22 2017, 8:47am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

NASA Revisits the Site Where Mars Opportunity Rover Landed 13 Years Ago
Eagle Crater is at the upper right of the new image while the parachute and backshell are at the lower left. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA offers a new look at Opportunity rover's landing site

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) sends back a new image of the landing platform, which was left behind by Opportunity rover more than 13 years ago. The image shows how the landing site looks like now.

Opportunity's nearby parachute and backshell both are visible in the latest view. The image also reveals a series of bounces and tumbles after the rover initially touchdown Mars Eagle Crater.

Eagle Crater is about 72 feet wide and is located in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars. When Opportunity rover landed on Martian surface, it first hit near the Eagle Crater. Then, it bounced and rolled into the crater. Opportunity stayed there for a week until the airbags attached to the rover deflated and it was able to roam around the surface.

The new image is taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on April 10, 2017. MRO arrived at Mars in March 2006, almost two years after Opportunity's landing.

“This is the first color image of Eagle Crater from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, which has optics that include the most powerful telescope ever sent to Mars,” NASA statement reads.

“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.”

Opportunity rover reached Martian surface on January 25, 2004. It has been designed to explore the signs of extraterrestrial life on Mars. Originally intended to last just 90 days, the rover is still actively exploring Martian surface and has driven more than 27 miles. Opportunity also holds the distinction of being the longest active rover on Mars.

Since late 2014, Opportunity is studying "Cape Tribulation," a crater-rim segment discovered by the rover itself. The rover's next destination is “Perseverance Valley," an ancient gully. With this encounter, Opportunity rover team is hoping to understand what type of fluid activity carved the valley billions of years ago:

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
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