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Press Release Images: Opportunity
26-Feb-2004
Mars Sunset Clip from Opportunity Tells Dusty Tale
Full Press Release
The Sun Sets on Mars (Still)
The Sun Sets on Mars (Still)

On Sol 20 of its journey, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity woke up around 5:30 p.m. in the martian afternoon to watch the sunset. This is a still image from the rover's panoramic camera showing Sun just over the horizon. The rover is looking to the southwest. This image is only approximate true color, using infrared, green and violet filters, rather than the human red-green-blue, so that the maximum panoramic camera wavelength range could be covered by the observations, enhancing the scientific value of the measurements.

Images through the different filters were obtained with 1 minute gaps during the sunset. Because of some saturation in the pre-sunset images, it was not possible to generate color composites for those images. Therefore, to approximate what the scene would have looked like to the human eye, a color image was made from the first post-sunset sequence of filters. The color seen in the first post-sunset image was then "painted over" each pre-sunset image in the sequence. In this fashion, the position and brightness of the Sun is taken from each individual image, but the color of the Sun is taken from a single set of post-sunset sky images, and so is not particularly accurate (previous missions have shown that the Sun is actually much closer to white during martian sunsets).

The rapid dimming of the Sun near the horizon is due to the dust in the sky. There is nearly twice as much dust as there was when the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft, which landed on Mars in 1997, imaged the sunset. This causes the Sun to be many times fainter. The sky above the Sun has the same blue tint observed by Pathfinder and also by Viking, which landed on Mars in 1976. This is because dust in the martian atmosphere scatters blue light forward toward the observer much more efficiently than it scatters red light forward. Therefore, a "halo" of blueish sky color is always observed close to the Sun. Only half of this halo can be seen in this image because the other half is below the horizon.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/ Texas A&M/Cornell
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Opportunity Landing Spot Panorama (3-D Model)
Opportunity Landing Spot Panorama (3-D Model)

The rocky outcrop traversed by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is visible in this three-dimensional model of the rover's landing site. Opportunity has acquired close-up images along the way, and scientists are using the rover's instruments to closely examine portions of interest. The white fragments that look crumpled near the center of the image are portions of the airbags. Distant scenery is displayed on a spherical backdrop or "billboard" for context. Artifacts near the top rim of the crater are a result of the transition between the three-dimensional model and the billboard. Portions of the terrain model lacking sufficient data appear as blank spaces or gaps, colored reddish-brown for better viewing. This image was generated using special software from NASA's Ames Research Center and a mosaic of images taken by the rover's panoramic camera.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Ames/Cornell
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Opportunity Landing Spot Panorama Close-Up (3-D Model)
Opportunity Landing Spot Panorama Close-Up (3-D Model)

The rocky outcrop traversed by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is visible in this zoomed-in portion of a three-dimensional model of the rover's landing site. Opportunity has acquired close-up images along the way, and scientists are using the rover's instruments to closely examine portions of interest. The white fragments that look crumpled near the center of the image are portions of the airbags. Distant scenery is displayed on a spherical backdrop or "billboard" for context. Artifacts near the top rim of the crater are a result of the transition between the three-dimensional model and the billboard. Portions of the terrain model lacking sufficient data appear as blank spaces or gaps, colored reddish-brown for better viewing. This image was generated using special software from NASA's Ames Research Center and a mosaic of images taken by the rover's panoramic camera.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Ames/Cornell
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Charlie Flats and El Capitan
Charlie Flats and El Capitan

This mosaic image from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s panoramic camera shows two regions of the rock outcrop at Meridiani Planum, Mars. The region on the left, dubbed “Charlie Flats," was imaged because it contains an assortment of small grains, pebbles and spherules, as well as both dark and light soil deposits. The region on the right is where Opportunity is parked and is doing work as of Sol 33 of its mission (February 26, 2004).

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Charlie Flats
Charlie Flats

This image from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s panoramic camera shows a region of the rock outcrop at Meridiani Planum, Mars, dubbed “Charlie Flats.” This region is a rich science target for Opportunity because it contains a diverse assortment of small grains, pebbles and spherules, as well as both dark and light soil deposits. The area seen here measures approximately 0.6 meters (2 feet) across. The smallest grains visible in this image are only a few millimeters in size. The approximate true color image was acquired on Sol 20 of Opportunity's mission with panoramic camera filters red, green and blue.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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Charlie Flats Spectra
Charlie Flats Spectra

The chart on the right shows examples of spectra, or light wave patterns, extracted from the region of the Meridiani Planum rock outcrop dubbed “Charlie Flats,” a rich science target for the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The spectra were extracted from the similarly colored regions in the image on the left, taken by the rover’s panoramic camera. The green circle identifies a bright, dust-like soil deposit. The red circle identifies a dark soil region. The yellow identifies a small, angular rock chip with a strong near-infrared band. The pink identifies a sphere-shaped pebble with a different strong near-infrared band. The cyan circle shows a dark, grayish pebble.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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El Capitan
El Capitan

This image from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s panoramic camera shows the "El Capitan" region of the rock outcrop at Meridiani Planum, Mars. On the bottom is the view obtained from the “Alpha” waypoint station on Sol 18 of Opportunity’s mission. On the top is the view obtained after the rover had moved to “Bravo” waypoint station on Sol 19. This image is a false-color composite using the red, green and blue filters.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell
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