Status Report

Opportunity Takes a Last Look at Rock Exposure Before Heading to ‘Victoria Crater’

By SpaceRef Editor
August 25, 2006
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Opportunity Takes a Last Look at Rock Exposure Before Heading to ‘Victoria Crater’


NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recently stopped to analyze an exposure of rock near “Beagle Crater,” on a target nicknamed “Baltra.” Nearly 100 sols, or Martian days, had passed since Opportunity had last analyzed one of the now-familiar rock exposures seen on the Plains of Meridiani. The rover ground a 3-millimeter-deep (0.12-inch-deep) hole in the rock using the rock abrasion tool on sol 893 (July 29, 2006) while stationed about 25 meters (82 feet) from the southwest rim of Beagle Crater.

Scientists wanted to analyze the outcrop one more time before driving the rover onto the ring of smooth material surrounding “Victoria Crater.” Opportunity’s analysis showed the rock to be very similar in its elemental composition to other exposures encountered during the rover’s southward trek across Meridiani Planum.

The two color images shown here are from Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam).

The black-and-white image is from the rover’s microscopic imager. The Pancam images were acquired shortly after noon on Mars on sol 896 (Aug. 1, 2006), after Opportunity had ground the hole and analyzed the rock with its chemical and mineralogical spectrometers. At upper left is an approximately true-color Pancam image, generated from mathematical combinations of calibrated left-eye images using filters ranging from 432-nanometer to 753-nanometer wavelengths. At lower left is a false-color image made using the Pancam’s 753-nanometer, 535-nanometer, and 432-nanometer filters. The false color emphasizes differences in rock and soil materials. The rover acquired the Pancam images after backing up 1 meter (3.3 feet) from Baltra to assure that the target was in sunlight.The microscopic imager acquired the exposures combined into the image at right on sol 894 (July 30, 2006) while the target was fully shadowed. This image shows an area about 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) across, just spanning the diameter of the hole ground into Baltra. The image resolution of 30 microns per pixel makes it possible to see features as small as 0.1 millimeter (0.004 inch).

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/USGS

SpaceRef staff editor.