24 January 2006
Two years ago, the Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, landed on Meridiani Planum. The rover marked its first Mars-year (687 Earth Days) anniversary in December 2005. Two pictures are shown here: the one on the right is the same as that on the left, except that key features have been labeled. Both pictures include a colored portion -- a 3-d (stereo) anaglyph which can be viewed using "3-d" glasses with a red left eye and a blue right eye. Figures 2 and 3 are MOC narrow angle non-stereo images.
During the landing in January 2004, rockets were fired to slow the final descent, just before the inflated airbags (containing the folded-up lander and rover) were released. The rockets disturbed the sandy surface at the location labeled "blast effects." Following release, the airbags bounced and rolled until coming to rest inside Eagle Crater. The lander, in fact, can be seen as a bright spot near the center of Eagle Crater. Meanwhile, the jettisoned parachute and backshell landed to the southwest of Eagle, and the heatshield fell just southwest of Endurance Crater.
Opportunity initially examined sedimentary rock outcrops and sandy, windblown regolith within Eagle Crater. Then it was driven by the rover team out of Eagle and on into Endurance Crater. By the end of 2004, Opportunity had left Endurance and was investigating the site where the heatshield impacted the surface. After that, the rover spent much of the year 2005 driving from the heatshield location down to the shallow Erebus Crater. Long-term plans call for driving Opportunity from Erebus to Victoria Crater, where a substantially thicker sequence of layered rock is expected to be found, relative to previous outcrops examined in the craters Endurance and Eagle.
Location near: 2.0°S, 5.6°W
Image width: 300 m scale bar = 984 ft
Illumination from: left