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Mars Rover Opportunity

December 27, 2004

Opportunity gained this view of its own heat shield during the rover’s 325th sol (Dec. 22, 2004). The heat shield protected the rover from frictional high temperatures during descent through the martian atmosphere in January 2004. The main structure from the shield is to the far left. Additional fragments lie in the upper center of the image. The heat shield’s impact mark is visible just above and to the right of the shadow of Opportunity’s camera mast. This view is a mosaic of three images taken with the rover’s navigation camera.

Credit: NASA/JPL | Last Image Update: December 27, 2004

Opportunity Mission Journal

Rover: Opportunity Date: December 22, 2004

Opportunity took this image with its Pancam camera when the rover was about 130 meters (427 feet) from its heat shield, during the rover’s 322nd sol (Dec. 19, 2004). The protective device shielded the rover from intense frictional heat as it plunged through the martian atmosphere and was shed during the descent and landing sequence. Scientists and engineers are interested in seeing what effects the descent had on the heat shield and are directing Opportunity to examine it.

Rover: Opportunity Date: December 13, 2004

Opportunity captured this 180-degree view of "Burns Cliff" after driving to the base of this southeastern portion of the inner wall of "Endurance Crater." The view combines frames taken by the rover’s Pancam camera between the rover’s 287th and 294th martian days (Nov. 13 to 20, 2004). It is an approximately true-color mosaic that is composed of 46 different images, each acquired in seven different Pancam filters. Because of this wide-angle view, the cliff walls appear to bulge out toward the camera. In reality the walls form a gently curving, continuous surface.

Rover: Opportunity Date: November 23, 2004

This close-up view of Opportunity’s capture magnet was provided by the Microscopic Imager on sol 279 of the mission. The capture magnet is designed to be as strong as possible so that it will attract both strong and weak magnetic dust from the martian atmosphere. It is located next to a weaker filter magnet near the base of the Pancam mast. These different magnetic strengths allow scientists to compare the patterns and properties of the dust that accumulates. The layer of dust on this capture magnet has grown quite thick. The rover’s spectrometers will be used to learn more about the composition of these magnetic grains.

Rover: Opportunity Date: November 17, 2004

The Mars Rover mission’s atmospheric science team is studying cloud observations to deduce seasonal and time-of-day behavior of the clouds. This helps them gain a better understanding of processes that control cloud formation on Mars. These clouds are above the rim of "Endurance Crater." On Earth, clouds like these would be referred to as "cirrus" or the aptly nicknamed "mares’ tails." They occur in a region of strong vertical shear. The cloud particles (ice in this martian case) fall out, and get dragged along away from the location where they originally condensed, forming characteristic streamers.

Rover: Opportunity Date: November 11, 2004

"Burns Cliff" in the inner wall of "Endurance Crater" displays multiple layers of bedrock for Opportunity to examine with its Pancam camera and Mini-TES. The rover team has decided that the farthest the rover can safely advance along the base of the cliff is close to the squarish white rock near the center of this image. After examining the site for a few days from that position, the rover will turn around and head out of the crater.

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