Opportunity Rover Records Footage of Tracks on Mars
Opportunity has now been living on Mars for a decade, and it recently recorded footage of almost half a mile of its own tracks on the red planet.
The footage was taken at the rim of the Endeavor crater, which Opportunity had been investigating for three years before moving on to Murray Ridge. It begins with an aerial view of the ten-year-long mission as a whole, and then zooms in to several hundred yards of Opportunity's tracks.
(An image of Opportunity's tracks taken on Aug 15th 2014 - Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ)
The Opportunity mission was originally planned to last a mere ninety days, but has received several extensions over the last ten years. The mission aims to discover whether Mars is currently suitable for life and whether it has ever sustained life in the past. It cannot detect life directly, but can assist scientists in forming these conclusions by analyzing the geological properties of the planet through soil and rock samples. In its time on Mars, Opportunity discovered an intact meteorite, was perilously trapped in a sand dune for several weeks, and provided significant supporting data for the hypothesis that Mars has provided a habitable, watery environment in the past.