Image: July 7, 2003, NASA's Opportunity rover launches to Mars

July 8, 2015 by Sarah Loff, NASA
Credit: NASA

On July 7, 2003, NASA launched its second Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, aboard a Delta II launch vehicle. Opportunity's dash to Mars began with liftoff at 11:18:15 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The spacecraft separated successfully from the Delta's third stage 83 minutes later, after it had been boosted out of Earth orbit and onto a course toward Mars. Opportunity and its twin rover Spirit landed on Mars in 2004 to begin missions planned to last three months. Both rovers far exceeded those plans. Spirit worked for six years, and Opportunity is still active.

This month, operators plan to drive the Opportunity rover into a valley, where it will be active through the long-lived rover's seventh Martian winter, examining outcrops that contain clay minerals. The rover is working about half a football field's length away from entering the western end of "Marathon Valley," a notch in the raised rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

A new video compilation of images from Opportunity's hazard-avoidance cameras between January 2004 and April 2015 shows the rover's-eye-view of its Martian marathon covering 26.2 milesĀ (42.2 kilometers) from its landing location.

Explore further: Opportunity's 7th Mars winter to include new study area

Related Stories

Opportunity's 7th Mars winter to include new study area

July 7, 2015

Operators of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity plan to drive the rover into a valley this month where Opportunity will be active through the long-lived rover's seventh Martian winter, examining outcrops that contain ...

Mars rover nearing marathon achievement

February 12, 2015

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is nearing a location on Mars at which its driving distance will surpass the length of a marathon race.

Mars rover Opportunity's vista includes long tracks

September 10, 2014

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.

Image: NASA rover Opportunity's selfie shows clean machine

April 18, 2014

In its sixth Martian winter, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity now has cleaner solar arrays than in any Martian winter since its first on the Red Planet, in 2005. Cleaning effects of wind events in March boosted the ...

Recommended for you

Researchers capture best ever evidence of rare black hole

June 18, 2018

Scientists have been able to prove the existence of small black holes and those that are super-massive but the existence of an elusive type of black hole, known as intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) is hotly debated. New ...

Exploring planetary plasma environments from your laptop

June 15, 2018

A new database of plasma simulations, combined with observational data and powerful visualisation tools, is providing planetary scientists with an unprecedented way to explore some of the Solar System's most interesting plasma ...

NASA encounters the perfect storm for science

June 14, 2018

One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA's Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft ...

0 comments

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.