Mars rover Opportunity's vista includes long tracks

September 10, 2014 by Guy Webster, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This scene from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks back toward part of the west rim of Endeavour Crater that the rover drove along, heading southward, during the summer of 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

From a ridgeline viewpoint, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recently recorded a scene looking back over its own tracks made from nearly half a mile (more than 700 meters) of southbound driving.

Opportunity's (Pancam) recorded the component images on Aug. 15, 2014, from an elevated portion of the west rim of Endeavour Crater. A brief video places the scene into context with the rover's entire driving route of more than 25 miles (40 kilometers) since the mission's 2004 landing in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars.

The Opportunity mission has been investigating outcrops on the western rim of Endeavour Crater for three years. The crater spans 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter. During Opportunity's first decade on Mars and the 2004-to-2010 career of its twin, Spirit, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project yielded a range of findings proving wet on ancient Mars—some very acidic, others milder and more conducive to supporting life.

This Aug. 15, 2014, scene from the Pancam on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks back toward part of the west rim of Endeavour Crater that the rover drove along, heading southward, during the summer of 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Overhead and on-the-ground views of the 25-mile journey NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has made since landing in 2004.

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