A mosaic of images taken in January 2012 shows Opportunity's vista north (left) and northeast (right), in an outcrop known as "Greeley Haven," where the rover spent its fifth Martian winter. The image released by NASA is presented in "false color," to make differences in the landscape easier to see.
With the darkest days of the Martian winter now over, NASA took its Opportunity Mars Rover for a drive this week. The rover had been stationary while its solar panels lacked enough sunlight to power its batteries.
The rover's drive Tuesday was a short one: "about 12 feet northwest and downhill," according to NASA. The agency says Opportunity has driven 21.4 miles since it landed on Mars in January of 2004.
NASA launched the Mars Science Laboratory from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday. The MSL is five times heavier than the rovers currently on Mars and has twice as many scientific instruments. It will take nine months for the spacecraft to reach the Red Planet, and there's plenty of things for it to do before then.
A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. NASA adjusted the colors in this image. Fans of the film <em>Capricorn One</em> may want to see the <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/multimedia/gallery/pia11508.html">original orange-tinted image</a>.
You may not have realized it, but a piece of U.S. property was recently driving around on the surface of Mars. Tens of millions of miles away from the debt crisis, the heat wave and other big events of the summer, NASA's rover Opportunity just completed a 13-mile trip to allow scientists to examine a Martian crater.