NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona / Emily Lakdawalla
Opportunity's landing site in color for the first time from HiRISE
This is the first HiRISE image to contain the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s landing site in color. The lander, parachute, and heat shield that took Opportunity safely to the surface are still where the rover left them, and this color view reveals subtle details of the disturbed ground around the hardware. The color of the hardware sets it apart from the natural rocks and sand of Meridiani Planum. The detail images at the bottom show the backshell and parachute (left) and lander inside Eagle crater (right). This observation was requested as a HiWish by The Planetary Society's own Emily Lakdawalla.
Away from the color swath, the crash site of the heat shield has also faded with time. Again, while dark traces remain, the lighter “splats” around the hardware visible earlier are no longer apparent.
This image fills a gap in HiRISE’s color coverage of the Opportunity landing site, its traverse eastward from Eagle and southward from Endurance craters. But few signs of Opportunity’s tracks are now visible: they have been obliterated by the Martian wind in the decade or more since the rover created them.
Written by: Emily Lakdawalla and Ken Herkenhoff (21 April 2017)