PIA07295: Opportunity Tracks Seen from Orbit
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars Global Surveyor (MGS)
Mars Exploration Rover (MER)
 Spacecraft:  Mars Global Surveyor Orbiter
 Instrument:  Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
 Product Size:  2818 x 1279 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  Malin Space Science Systems
 Producer ID:  MOC2-981
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA07295.tif (2.427 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA07295.jpg (511.1 kB)

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Original Caption Released with Image:

figure 1 for PIA07295
Figure 1

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity landed on the red planet a year ago. This enhanced-resolution image from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter is the only picture obtained thus far (by Jan. 24, 2005) that shows the tracks made by Opportunity.

The image was acquired on April 26, 2004, during Opportunity's 91st martian day, or sol. That was the first day of Opportunity's extended mission, and the rover had recently completed exploration of small "Fram Crater" on the route from its landing site toward "Endurance Crater," where it would eventually spend six months. The rover itself can be seen in this image -- an amazing accomplishment, considering that the orbiter was nearly 400 kilometers (nearly 250 miles) away at the time! Also visible and labeled on this image are the spacecraft's lander, backshell, parachute and heat shield, plus effects of its landing rockets.

The camera captured this image with use of a technique called compensated pitch and roll targeted observation. In this method, the entire spacecraft rolls as it passes over the target area so the camera can scan in a way that sees details at three times higher resolution than the camera's normal high-resolution capability.

The tracks made by Opportunity on the sandy surface of Meridiani Planum are not quite as visible from orbit as are the tracks made in Gusev Crater by the other Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit. A dustier surface at the Spirit site increases contrast between the tracks and the surrounding surfaces. Indeed, some parts of the track made by Opportunity are not visible in this image. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the left. North is toward the top of the image. The 100-meter scale bar is 109 yards long.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

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