What’s a Mars rover to do when there’s not enough power to rove? Take pictures. LOTS of pictures! This wonderful new panoramic view of the Opportunity rover’s stopping place this past Mars winter, Greeley Haven, is composed of 817 images taken between Dec. 21, 2011, and May 8, 2012. It shows fresh rover tracks and the rim of an ancient impact crater, Endeavour, which awaits more explorations from Opportunity. You’ll want to click and see a bigger version of it here.
But to get the full effect, check out this great interactive sphere of the panorama put together by John O’Connor of the NASATech website!
The images were taken with the color camera mounted on the mast of Oppy, providing a sense of sitting on top of the rover and taking in the view. This is actually a false color image, which emphasizes the difference between the materials.
“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,” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Tempe, Pancam lead scientist.
Opportunity has recently reached a milestone: On July 2, Opportunity reached its 3,000th Martian day, or Sol. You can read a great write-up of the accomplishment at the Road to Endeavour blog by Stu Atkinson, which includes interviews of rover drivers Scott Maxwell and Paolo Bellutta.
Stu also compiled this mosaic close-up of a RAT (Rock Abrasion Tool) hole drilled by Oppy into a rock called “Grasburg.”
Opportunity has recently started to take short drives coming off the long Martian winter, and the team notes in the latest update that the rover has been benefiting from solar array dust cleaning events, which increase the daily energy production: as of Sol 3001 (July 3, 2012), the solar array energy production was 577 watt-hours. That’s great news for future drives and the longevity of the long-lived rover, which has been on Mars since 2004. Truly, Oppy is the Energizer Bunny of rovers!
Lead image caption: This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.
Second image caption: A close-up look at a hole drilled by Opportunity’s RAT (Rock Abrasion Tool). Mosaic of 4 microscopic imager photos by Stu Atkinson.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.