Opportunity Looks Back and Heads South

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is heading south after spending the better part of its mission inside “Endurance Crater” on Meridiani Planum. Within the crater, Opportunity observed bedrock and discovered strong evidence for past surface water over an extended period of geologic time (and perhaps more than once in Martian history.) The rover also looked up out of the crater and spotted clouds, a rare sight in images from the surface of Mars.

The scientific data obtained was analyzed in depth over the past few months and the results were recently published in a special issue of Science Magazine. The top background image is of the clouds, the bottom background image is of “Burn’s Cliff” within the crater, and the foreground image is from Opportunity’s look back after climbing out of the crater.

Both Opportunity and its sibling rover Spirit have survived long after their initial 3-month mission, nearing a year at work on the Red Planet. Because of this success, the mission team is planning riskier trips across more rugged terrain. Opportunity will next travel south across Meridiani Planum to a more rugged region.

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).