Opportunity passes small crater and big milestone

June 6, 2011 By Guy Webster
Opportunity Beside a Small, Young Crater NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its navigation camera to take the exposures combined into this view of a wee crater, informally named "Skylab," along the rover's route. The component images were taken during the 2,594th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (May 12, 2011), after Opportunity had driven 239 feet (72.7 meters) that sol. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(PhysOrg.com) -- A drive of 482 feet (146.8 meters) on June 1, 2011, took NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity past 30 kilometers (18.64 miles) in total odometry during 88 months of driving on Mars. That's 50 times the distance originally planned for the mission and more than 12 times the distance racehorses will run next week at the Belmont Stakes.

Opportunity has passed many craters on its crater-hopping tour. One of the youngest of them is "Skylab" crater, which the rover passed last month. Rocks scattered by the impact of a meteorite surround the resulting crater in a view recorded by Opportunity on May 12.

This crater, informally named after America's first space station, is only about 9 meters (30 feet) in diameter. Opportunity passed it as the rover made progress toward its long-term destination, Endeavour crater, which is about 22 kilometers (14 miles) in diameter.

The positions of the scattered rocks relative to sand ripples suggest that Skylab is young for a . Researchers estimate it was excavated by an impact within the past 100,000 years.

Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions. Both have made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. Spirit has not communicated with Earth since March 2010.

Explore further: Opportunity Surpasses 20 Kilometers of Total Driving

More information: The view is at photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA14132 , and in 3-D stereo at photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA14133 .

Related Stories

Opportunity rover halfway point reached

September 9, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- When NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity left Victoria Crater two years ago this month, the rover science team chose Endeavour Crater as the rover's next long-term destination. With a drive of 111 meters ...

Opportunity studying a football-field size crater

December 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- On Dec. 16, 2010, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity reached a crater about the size of a football field-some 90 meters (295 feet) in diameter. The rover team plans to use cameras and spectrometers ...

Mars tribute marks memories of Shepard's flight

May 5, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The team exploring Mars via NASA's Opportunity rover for the past seven years has informally named a Martian crater for the Mercury spacecraft that astronaut Alan Shepard christened Freedom 7. On May 5, 1961, ...

Mars Rover driving leaves distinctive tracks

May 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- When NASA's Opportunity Mars rover uses an onboard navigation capability during backward drives, it leaves a distinctive pattern in the wheel tracks visible on the Martian ground.

Recommended for you

NEOWISE identifies greenhouse gases in comets

November 24, 2015

After its launch in 2009, NASA's NEOWISE spacecraft observed 163 comets during the WISE/NEOWISE prime mission. This sample from the space telescope represents the largest infrared survey of comets to date. Data from the survey ...

Cool, dim dwarf star is magnetic powerhouse

November 19, 2015

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that a dim, cool dwarf star is generating a surprisingly powerful magnetic field, one that rivals the most intense magnetic regions ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jun 07, 2011
I wonder how long more the space crafts wants to work?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.