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Opportunity Rover Out of the Crater.

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Crater: Image credit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/mer2004/rover-images/mar-22-2004/captions/image-1.html.

NASA's Opportunity Rover has crawled out of the crater it landed in, and turned back to survey its old home. Getting out of the hole wasn't as easy as NASA originally thought it was going to be. The Opportunity Rover made an attempt to drive out of the crater, but the slope was so steep it slipped back down. Operators finally found a route that was gentle enough for the rover to get out and onto the plains above. The 22-metre crater has been named "Eagle Crater"

The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's landing site is now viewable in panorama as the rover exited the crater which scientists consider one of the investigative landmarks on the red planet.

This image mosaic, compiled from navigation and panoramic camera images during the 33rd, 35th, and 36th sols on Mars, shows a panoramic view of the crater where the rover had been exploring since its dramatic arrival in late January 2004.

The crater, now informally referred to as "Eagle Crater," is approximately 22 meters (72 feet) in diameter. Opportunity's lander is visible in the center of the image. Track marks reveal the rover's progress. The rover cameras recorded this view as Opportunity climbed close to the crater rim as part of a soil survey campaign.

After a slightly slippery start yestersol, Opportunity Rover made it out of "Eagle Crater"on Sol 57, which ends at 8:45 p.m. PST on March 22. The drive along the crater's inner slope that was initiated on the last Sol continued this Sol until Opportunity exited its landing-site crater.

The rover tried driving uphill out of its landing-site crater during its 56th sol, ending at 10:05 p.m. March 21, PST, but slippage prevented success.

The rover remained healthy, and it later completed a turn to the right and a short drive along the crater's inner slope.

Controllers sent it on a different route for exiting the crater and images from the navigation camera confirmed that the rover is now about 9 meters (about 29.5 feet) outside of the crater.

The rover also conducted remote sensing observations between naps this sol. After completing the drive out of the crater, the navigation camera imaged Opportunity's brand new view of the plains of Meridiani Planum.

Opportunity flipped more meters on its odometer during the latest drives along the current soil survey campaign, surpassing the total drive distance of 1997's Sojourner rover.

During the martian night, rover planners will awaken Opportunity Rover to take miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations of the ground and the atmosphere.

Original Source: Astrobiology Magazine

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