What Opportunity Left Behind
What Opportunity Left Behind
ESP_050177_1780  Science Theme: Future Exploration/Landing Sites
This is the first HiRISE image to contain the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s landing site in color. The lander, parachute, and heat shield that took Opportunity safely to the surface are still where the rover left them, and this color view reveals subtle details of the disturbed ground around the hardware. The color of the hardware sets it apart from the natural rocks and sand of Meridiani Planum.

The first image of Opportunity’s landing site taken after landing was acquired by the Mars Orbiter Camera on Mars Global Surveyor in 2004. HiRISE first imaged the area in November 2006 over 1 Mars year after landing. This image shows changes relative to the MOC image, including erasure of the marks made by the landing rockets where the airbag-shrouded lander first bounced on the surface.

The lander is visible as a darker center amid the reddish airbags, resting at the center of the bowl of Eagle Crater. (Compare this view from orbit with the Opportunity Pancam color mosaic taken as the rover left Eagle Crater.) The crumpled parachute remains attached to the bluish backshell, which has possible signs of windstreaks developing downwind of it. An arc of slightly darker ground extends clockwise from the present position of the parachute, a sign that the parachute has blown around in the wind, although it does not appear to have changed much since the first time we imaged it in black and white. Other, brighter signs of the backshell’s landing have faded with time.

Away from the color swath, the crash site of the heat shield has also faded with time. Again, while dark traces remain, the lighter “splats” around the hardware visible earlier are no longer apparent.

This image fills a gap in HiRISE’s color coverage of the Opportunity landing site, its traverse eastward from Eagle and southward from Endurance craters. But few signs of Opportunity’s tracks are now visible: they have been obliterated by the Martian wind in the decade or more since the rover created them.

Written by: Emily Lakdawalla and Ken Herkenhoff  (21 April 2017)

Acquisition date
10 April 2017

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
268.7 km (167.0 miles)

Original image scale range
27.1 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~81 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
31°, with the Sun about 59° above the horizon

Solar longitude
347.2°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  359.3°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
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Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
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RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (812MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (457MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (368MB)
non-map           (464MB)

IRB color
map projected  (149MB)
non-map           (390MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (223MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (214MB)

RGB color
non map           (378MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

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.