Opportunity Rover at Santa Maria Crater
Opportunity Rover at Santa Maria Crater
ESP_020758_1780  Science Theme: Future Exploration/Landing Sites
HiRISE acquired this image of the Opportunity rover on the Southwest rim of Santa Maria Crater on New Year's Eve 2010, or Sol 2466 of the rover's surface mission.

Opportunity is imaging the crater interior to better understand the geometry of rock layers as a means of defining the stratigraphy and the impact process. Santa Maria is a relatively young, 90 meter-diameter impact crater (note blocks of ejecta around the crater), but old enough to collect sand dunes in its interior.

Santa Maria Crater, located in Meridiani Planum, is about 6 kilometers from the rim of Endeavour Crater, which contains spectral indications of phyllosilicates, or clay bearing minerals that are believed to have formed in wet conditions that could have been more habitable than the later acidic conditions in which the sulfates Opportunity has been exploring formed.

CRISM data show indications of hydrated sulfates on the Southeast edge of the Santa Maria Crater at which Opportunity is planning on spending the upcoming solar conjunction. After that, Opportunity will traverse to the northwest rim of Endeavour Crater, aided tremendously by HiRISE images like this for navigation and targeting interesting smaller craters along the way.

HiRISE has produced a nice 3D image of the observation here.

HiRISE also has an oblique view of the same area here. This image shows the view looking West, as MRO pointed off-nadir 18 degrees to the west to acquire this oblique image, similar to the view out an airplane window.

Written by: Matthew Golombek  (1 February 2011)
Acquisition date
30 December 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
269.3 km (167.3 miles)

Original image scale range
28.3 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~85 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
53°, with the Sun about 37° above the horizon

Solar longitude
208.3°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  351.8°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.