Eleven years on Mars for the rover Opportunity! And the robotic rover is still working. The rover’s work on Mars was initially planned for three months. It marked the 11th anniversary of its own January 25, 2004 landing on Mars with a new panorama, gained from the top of the Cape Tribulation segment of the rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover had reached this point three weeks before acquiring the panorama on January 22, 2015.
This location is the highest elevation Opportunity has reached since departing the Victoria Crater area in 2008 on a three-year, down-slope journey to Endeavour Crater. Endeavour spans about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter, with its interior and rim laid out in this 245-degree panorama centered toward east-northeast. Rover tracks imprinted during the rover’s approach to the site appear on the left.
The panorama’s component images were taken with Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam) during the days after the rover’s arrival at the summit on January 6, 2015, the 3,894th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars.
The Mars Opportunity rover has driven 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers) since it landed in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars on January 25, 2004. That is farther than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has driven. During its prime mission and for more than a decade of bonus performance in extended missions, Opportunity has returned compelling evidence about wet environments on ancient Mars.
Opportunity has been exploring Endeavour’s western rim since 2011. From a low segment of the rim that it crossed in mid-2013, called Botany Bay, it climbed about 440 feet (about 135 meters) in elevation to reach the top of Cape Tribulation. That’s about 80 percent the height of the Washington Monument.
Bottom line: NASA/JPL released a panorama from one of the highest elevations that NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has yet reached to mark its 11th anniversary on Mars. The image includes the U.S. flag at the summit.