A Martian panorama for the 11th anniversary of the Mars Rover Opportunity’s landing on Mars

The panorama seen by the Mars Rover Opportunity on the top of Cape Tribulation (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)
The panorama seen by the Mars Rover Opportunity on the top of Cape Tribulation (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

NASA released an image of the Martian landscape seen from the Mars Rover Opportunity on the occasion of the earth’s eleventh anniversary of its arrival on Mars. Opportunity landed at 5:05 UTC on January 25, 2004 and now has traveled for about 41.7 km (25.9 miles) on the red planet. About three weeks ago it reached the top of the segment of the Endeavour Crater called Cape Tribulation and from there it used its Pancam (panoramic camera) instrument to take a series of photographs that were combined together.

Cape Tribulation is the highest place achieved by the Mars Rover Opportunity since it left Victoria crater in 2008 and began its long journey that after three years led to Endeavour Crater. In mid-2013 it began the long climb from the lower area of the crater to reach that altitude, which is about 135 meters (440 feet).

During the past weeks, the Mars Rover Opportunity took a series of photographs from the top of Cape Tribulation showing the desert landscape of the red planet. Often these pictures are released after manipulating their colors to improve their quality. Instead, in this case, the colors are a good approximation of the real ones because their exposures taken through three color filters of the Pancam were combined together.

Despite the problems that it’s been having for several months with its flash memory, the Mars Rover Opportunity keeps on working. NASA engineers are preparing a solution they hope will be final for that problem but it takes time to prepare the necessary software to resize the flash.

Meanwhile, on January 17, 2015 the Mars Rover Opportunity left the top of Cape Tribulation. This is Sol, the Martian day, 3902 of its mission that originally was to last three months. Opportunity is now heading to an area called the Marathon Valley, a journey all downhill.

When the Mars Rover Opportunity has reached its new destination, it will have traveled the equivalent of a marathon. If all goes well it will be a remarkable new record for this extraordinary robot that despite some aging problems is continuing to contribute to scientific research on Mars.

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