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Emily LakdawallaDecember 15, 2010

Opportunity drives within 20 meters of Santa Maria, spots alligator's tail

Today Opportunity has driven to within 20 meters of Santa Maria crater, and the blocks around it are really, really cool-looking. This one is a dead ringer for the severed tail of an alligator (a comparison that UnmannedSpaceflight.com member Sunspot made first, but which I think will occur to a lot of people on their own). And no it's not really an alligator's tail. Or a stegosaurus'. It's a rock.

At Santa Maria

NASA / JPL-Caltech

At Santa Maria
Opportunity snapped this image of Santa Maria crater while 20 meters from its rim on sol 2,450 (December 15, 2010).

So, readers, quickly, before the conspiracy theorists get a hold of these photos: what shapes do YOU see in these rocks? Here's two more images from the Navcam panorama with lots of neato rocks: 1, 2. And here's a nice version of the full four-frame Navcam panorama from Opportunity's current position, assembled by Jan van Driel. One more drive should put her in a position to see inside the crater! Steady as she goes!

Opportunity panorama, sol 2450

NASA / JPL-Caltech / mosaic by Jan van Driel

Opportunity panorama, sol 2450
Opportunity drove to within 20 meters of Santa Maria crater on sol 2450 (December 15, 2010), capturing this Navcam panorama of the view ahead. The rim of Endeavour crater rises on the horizon.

Read more: pretty pictures, Opportunity, fun, amateur image processing, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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