This panorama shows the vista from which NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity spent five weeks in November and December 2008 while the sun was nearly directly in between Mars and Earth.
Opportunity is approaching the fifth anniversary of its landing on Mars, continuing a surface mission that was initially scheduled to last three months. The rover landed on Jan. 24, 2004.
Opportunity has driven 1.14 miles since it exited Victoria Crater on Sol 1634 (Aug. 28, 2008). It skirted the west rim of Victoria and, at the point from which this panorama was taken, had reached a position about six-tenths of a mile southwest of the crater's southern rim.
Opportunity is on a 7-mile trek toward Endeavour crater, a crater more than 20 times the size of Victoria Crater, which it studied for about two years. On the way toward Endeavour the rover is pausing to examine selected loose rocks on the surface. At the location from which this panorama was taken, the rover used the spectrometers on its robotic arm to examine a cobble informally called "Santorini," a dark rock about 3 inches long, which the inspection indicates is probably a meteorite. The rock is too close to the rover to be visible in this panorama.
Opportunity began driving again on Sol 1748 (Dec. 23, 2008).
This is an approximate true-color composite panorama generated from images taken through the Pancam's 750-nanometer, 530-nanometer and 430-nanometer filters. This "natural color" view is the rover team's best estimate of what the scene would look like if we were there and able to see it with our own eyes.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell University