Image: Opportunity's heat shield

Aug 17, 2011
Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

This image from 2005 shows the remains of the heat shield from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, broken into two key pieces, the main piece on the left side and a broken-off flank piece near the middle of the image. The heat shield impact site is identified by the circle of red dust on the right side of the picture. In this view, Opportunity is approximately 66 feet (20 meters) from the heat shield, which protected it while hurtling through the Martian atmosphere.

In the far left of the image, a meteorite called 'Heat Shield Rock' sits nearby, as the sun reflected off the silver-colored underside of the internal thermal blankets of the heat shield. The rover spent 36 sols investigating how the severe heating during entry through the atmosphere affected the heat shield. The most obvious is the fact that the heat shield inverted upon impact.

This is an approximately true-color rendering of the scene acquired around 1:22 p.m. local solar time on Opportunity sol 324 (Dec. 21, 2004) in an image mosaic using panoramic filters at wavelengths of 750, 530, and 430 nanometers. Opportunity has now spent more than 2,680 sols, or Martian days, on the Red Planet.

Explore further: Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Opportunity's Second Martian Birthday at Cape Verde

Oct 30, 2007

A promontory nicknamed "Cape Verde" can be seen jutting out from the walls of Victoria Crater in this approximate true-color picture taken by the panoramic camera on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.

Possible Meteorites in the Martian Hills

Jul 11, 2006

From its winter outpost at "Low Ridge" inside Gusev Crater, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit took this spectacular, color mosaic of hilly, sandy terrain and two potential iron meteorites. The two light-colored, ...

Rover Confirms Meteorite on Mars

Aug 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Composition measurements by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity confirm that this rock on the Martian surface is an iron-nickel meteorite.

NASA's Twin Mars Rovers Continue Exploration

Feb 15, 2005

NASA's Spirit rover found a new class of water-affected rock, while its twin, Opportunity, finished inspecting its own heat shield and set a new martian driving record. The rovers successfully completed their three-month ...

Spirit's Solar Panels Still Shiny After All This Time

Jan 06, 2006

The most recent self-portrait of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the solar panels still gleaming in the martian sunlight and carrying only a thin veneer of dust two years after the rover landed and ...

Recommended for you

Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

23 minutes ago

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

Dawn operating normally after safe mode triggered

33 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned ...

Repaired Opportunity rover readies for 'Marathon Valley'

35 minutes ago

With a newly cleared memory, it's time for Opportunity to resume the next stage of its long, long Martian drive. The next major goal for the long-lived rover is to go to Marathon Valley, a spot that (in images ...

Image: Rainbow aurora captured from space station

3 hours ago

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth's upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet's best views of this phenomenon, ...

Experts: Mystery fireball was Russian satellite

7 hours ago

People from New Mexico to Montana saw the bright object break apart as it moved slowly northward across the night sky. Witnesses described it as three "rocks" with glowing red and orange streaks.

User comments : 0