Mars Rover Opportunity at 30 Kilometers

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Opportunity at “Skylab” crater on Mars
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Opportunity continues its three year march from its last exploration at Victoria crater toward Endeavour crater, now just a few kilometers away. In the process, it rolled past the 30 kilometer mark on its odometer. Opportunity successfully completed its three-month prime mission on Mars in April 2004.

The crater in the image is informally known as “Skylab”. It is about 9 meters across and perhaps less than 100,000 years old. The component images were taken during the 2,594th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 12, 2011), after Opportunity had driven 239 feet (72.7 meters) that sol.

“Skylab” is a young crater. The blocks of material ejected from the crater-digging impact sit on top of the sand ripples near the crater. This suggests, from the estimated age of the area’s sand ripples, that the crater was formed within the past 100,000 years. The dark sand inside the crater attests to the mobility of fine sand in the recent era in this Meridiani Planum region of Mars.

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