Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Opportunity Rover As Seen From Orbit

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-981, 24 January 2005

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NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

50% size (~800 Kbytes) | Full size (~1.7 Mbytes)
NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

The Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B), Opportunity, landed on the red planet a year ago. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) cPROTO image (0.5 m/pixel) is the only picture obtained thus far that shows the tracks made by the Opportunity rover.

This is a sub-frame of MOC image R16-02188. It was acquired on 26 April 2004, during Opportunity's 91st sol--the first day of the MER-B Extended Mission. At that time, Opportunity had recently completed exploration of nearby Fram Crater, and was enroute toward Endurance Crater, where it would eventually spend most of the rest of 2004. The rover itself can be seen in this image-- an amazing accomplishment, considering that the MGS spacecraft was nearly 400 kilometers (nearly 250 miles) away at the time!

The tracks made by the rover on the sandy surface of Meridiani Planum are not quite as visible from orbit as are the tracks made in Gusev Crater by the MER-A rover, Spirit. The dustier surface at the Spirit site increases the 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, the 100 meter scale bar equals about 109 yards, and north is toward the top.

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Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, California and Denver, Colorado.

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