Pic of the Day: Afternoon on Mars

Let’s celebrate Memorial Day weekend a little bit early with this incredible late afternoon picture of a 14-mile wide crater on Mars that was just beamed back to NASA by the Mars Rover, Opportunity — which has been on Mars for a loooooong time; like, since 2004. That’s nearly 3,000 Martian-days, according to NASA. Yes, Martian days. They’re officially called sols, FYI.

Here’s what NASA has to say:

The rover used the panoramic camera (Pancam) between about 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. local Mars time to record images taken through different filters and combined into this mosaic view.

Most of the component images were recorded during the 2,888th Martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s work on Mars (March 9, 2012). At that time, Opportunity was spending low-solar-energy weeks of the Martian winter at the Greeley Haven outcrop on the Cape York segment of Endeavour’s western rim. In order to give the mosaic a rectangular aspect, some small parts of the edges of the mosaic and sky were filled in with parts of an image acquired earlier as part of a 360-degree panorama from the same location.

Opportunity has been studying the western rim of Endeavour Crater since arriving there in August 2011. This crater spans 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter, or about the same area as the city of Seattle. This is more than 20 times wider than Victoria Crater, the largest impact crater that Opportunity had previously examined. The interior basin of Endeavour is in the upper half of this view.

The mosaic combines about a dozen images taken through Pancam filters centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). The view is presented in false color to make some differences between materials easier to see, such as the dark sandy ripples and dunes on the crater’s distant floor.

  • tiger

    Speaking of space….. did anybody see the proposal about building a real Star Trek Space ship?

    • Belesari

      Yes its terrible and wouldn’t work.

      Glad people are thinking though. Think realisticly though startrek is quite possibly the most unrealistic scifi ever.

      • tiger

        Wouldn’t work seems a bit harsh. It seems mostly in the doable range tech wise.

      • tiger

        LOST in Space was far far worse……..

      • Lance

        No Star Wars is the most unrealistc.

    • RCDC

      Its possible, but it will cost trillions of dollars.

  • Stan

    That solar panel is barely recognizeable. It’s remarkeable that rover is still chugging along on so little power.

    • Kyle

      I’m sure some of the martian wind storms help giving it a little dusting every now and again.

  • Pat

    Might get lost…

    • Technoweapon

      The rover?

  • Ummm, where’s the fricken pic?

    • Jayson

      I had to open in a new tab and allow a quicktime thing to run before the pic could be viewed.

      Would have been smarter for DT to make it a regular image file like jpg or something.

  • John Moore

    ? mars has a atmosphere, there are dust storms. So what it made of?

    • Belesari

      Dirt and rock and minerals and such……same as earth.

    • Darrell

      The atmosphere –> Almost completely arbon Dioxide.

  • E-3 FE

    Pretty cool pic. Looks a lot dustier than earth.

    • joe

      Lower gravity (1/3). Very fine dust gets shifted around much more easily.

    • A. Nonymous

      It doesn’t rain on Mars nearly as often as it does on Earth.

  • Lance

    How about saving billions for the F-35 scrap NASA and space follies?

    • ben

      NASA’s entire budget is less than 5% that of the JSF program.

      And have fun trying to use the damn things without any satellite communications or guidance.

      Our current batch of GPS and imaging sats are nearing the end of their life cycle, we no longer have any land based backup systems, and the air based systems in development are both unreliable and vulnerable to interception..

      If anything we should be INCREASING NASA funding.

      • Lance

        True I know of this is popular but I just figure USAF programs may be more important now over NASA.

  • Pete

    8 years rolling – 3 month planned – and still functional, with only minor issues !

    The engineers responsible for this project should be REALLY proud of this incredible design.
    Same thing for the drivers, for not having stuck it in a hole.

    Hats off to those gentlemen !

    • EW3

      This is a real achievement that should make Americans proud.
      Sadly I doubt 1 in 100 Americans even know we are actively exploring Mars.

      • blight_

        They probably think it is a conspiracy by the government to make trillions of dollars…NOT!

        That said, I bet those UGV’s are rolling around with Samsung, Infineon and TI chips…fakes don’t last long on Mars.

    • Technoweapon

      I may be wrong, and correct me if I am, but I’m fairly sure the rover is completely autonomous as far as piloting is concerned. Built in sensors to keep it from running into rocks or falling down chasms and the like.

      I think all we do on this side is implement orders and routes. Correct me if I’m wrong, of course. Rovers are a little out of my jurisdiction.

  • Riles

    I was on a space kick a few months ago, and was reading about all the different probes and rovers that have been sent by various nations, and was shocked to find that NASA still had Opprotunity going. I never would have believed that those rovers could have lasted so long. Truly a marvel.

    • kim

      I’m still waiting for the day when the rover unexpectedly goes silent, and shortly after this message from Mars ticks in: “Send money, or your rover is toast!”

  • Dave

    The biggest question i have is why they never show photos like this in real color. The little peg thing on the bottom left hand corner is actually a solar compass. The arrow in the lower right hand corner of the compass is supposed to be blue, and not bright red/pink. NASA routinely uses false color so that the general public won’t see the true colors of Mars…I wonder why that is…

    • Curious

      Is the camera they took the image with a “true color” camera (i.e. visible spectrum)? If it is an IR camera, we may not have a choice but to have false color.

    • Riles

      Because Mars is actually purple and yellow and really crazy looking (and not red and boring), but NASA wants to keep that all to themselves because they are selfish and don’t want to share their purple-yellow true color images of Mars.

    • blight_

      Mess with the color settings all you want.

  • Smeghead
  • GCD

    Some people says that the true pictures and discoveries in Mars are hidden?

    • Technoweapon

      Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s all kinds of things that we’ve found that totally nukes our theories and assumptions about Mars…

      I’ll savor the suspense and enjoy/fear the truths later in life.

      Most likely it’ll be fear. I just know we’re going to end up running over, destroying, or taking some kind of ancient alien God or artifact thing, forcing the Martians to surface in a most unfriendly manner.

      Maybe. All we can do is look up and imagine until our tech evolves enough to produce truth.

      • Giant Mars Bug

        i for one welcome our new Mars overlords

  • RCDC

    How about a moon community base?