NASA has released more than 800 pictures taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, that can together be viewed as a panoramic picture of the Martian crater named Greeley Haven. This is an impact crater created by NASA near the rim of the bigger Endeavour crater, where the rover spent its latest Martian winter. The image have Opportunity’s solar arrays and deck in the foreground, which NASA said provides “a sense of sitting on top of the rover and taking in the view.”
Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the rover and the pictures are available for viewing on the Lab’s website, for which NASA says, “It is presented in false colour to emphasize differences between materials in the scene.”
The pictures were clicked by PanCam between Dec. 21, 2011 and May 8, 2012.
Jim Bell of Arizona State University (ASU) at Tempe and the lead scientist of Pancam, said, “The view provides rich geologic context for the detailed chemical and mineral work that the team did at Greeley Haven over the rover’s fifth Martian winter, as well as a spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we’ve driven to yet with either rover over the course of the mission.”
The Greeley Haven has been named after Ronald Greeley, who passed away last year. He was a team member and planetary science professor at ASU.
Steve Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity and Spirit of Cornell said, “Ron Greeley was a valued colleague and friend, and this scene, with its beautiful wind-blown drifts and dunes, captures much of what Ron loved about Mars.”
Opportunity, along with another rover named Spirit ended their official mission in 2004. However, NASA decided to leave the two rovers on Mars for years for bonus missions. Spirit had also driven more than its goal. It died in 2010, but managed to outdo itself by driving 4.8 miles, which was 12 times more than its original goal. The surviving rover has so far been gathering data and the pictures are a brilliant example of its work.
Endeavour managed to reach the rim of the massive Endeavour crater after a long 13 mile journey from Victoria crater that took it three years. There it stayed studying rocks so far unseen to human eyes.
This July on the second it Opportunity completed its 3,000th Martian day. For NASA the month of July marked celebration time as last week also marked the 15th anniversary of NASA’s robotic presence at Mars. Mars Pathfinder had first landed on Mars on July 4, 1997.
Last November the rover named Curiosity began its journey in the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) to Mars. Curiosity would land on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012 after a 352-million-mile journey.
Then it is to follow a two-year mission to explore whether the planet, NASA stated, “has ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.”