Sunday, July 08, 2012

A Celebratory Martian Panorama

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State University 

This newly completed view from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the ruddy terrain around the outcrop where the long-lived explorer spent its most recent Martian winter. Note the rover tracks through the left side of the view.

This scene was recorded from the mast-mounted color camera and includes the rover's own solar arrays and deck in the foreground. The view gives a sense of what it would be like to sit atop Opportunity on the edge of Endeavour Crater and take in the whole scene. NASA released the image just this passed week, coinciding with two milestones: Opportunity completing its 3,000th sol (Martian day) on July 2, and NASA continuing past 15 years of robotic presence at Mars. Mars Pathfinder landed July 4th, 1997. NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter reached the planet while Pathfinder was still active, and Global Surveyor overlapped the active missions of the Mars Odyssey orbiter and Opportunity, both still in service.

NASA makes the new panorama available online at It is presented in false color to emphasize differences between materials in the scene. It was assembled from 817 component images taken between Dec. 21st, 2011, and May 8th, 2012, while Opportunity was stationed on an outcrop informally named "Greeley Haven," on a segment of the rim of ancient Endeavour Crater, during its fifth Martian winter.

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, landed on Mars in January 2004 for missions originally planned to last for three months. NASA's next-generation Mars rover, Curiosity, is on course for landing on Mars next month.
Opportunity's science team chose to call the winter campaign site Greeley Haven in tribute to Ronald Greeley (1939-2011), a team member who taught generations of planetary science students at Arizona State University.

And now, the mission particulars...

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
More information about Opportunity is online at: and . You can follow the project on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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