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Mars rover briefing
The latest pictures and science results from the twin Mars Exploration Rovers and future plans for Spirit and Opportunity are presented at this briefing Thursday. (59min 12sec file)

Crater panorama
The spectacular color panorama from the Mars rover Spirit shows the Bonneville Crater, the discarded heatshield and surround terrain is explained with expert narration by science team member John Grant. (2min 15sec file)

Scuffing the drift
Spirit's work to "scuff" or disturb the crusty surface from a wind drift is described in this imagery narrated by science team member John Grant. (1min 07sec file)

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Opportunity rover bids farewell to crater home
Posted: March 22, 2004

An image from Opportunity looks back at its crater. Credit: NASA/JPL
Two months after scoring an "interplanetary hole in one" by landing inside a crater on Mars, the rover Opportunity drove out of the bowl-shaped crater Monday and sent back images of the remarkably smooth, flat terrain at Meridiani Planum.

The crater departure was first attempted Sunday, but the rover's wheels lost traction in the soil.

"NASA's Opportunity tried driving uphill out of its landing-site crater during its 56th sol. (Sunday), but slippage prevented success," mission control reported.

"The rover is healthy, and it later completed a turn to the right and a short drive along the crater's inner slope," NASA said Sunday night.

Controllers sent Opportunity along the crater rim to exit at a different spot. After Monday's successful drive, Opportunity is now sitting 9 meters (about 29.5 feet) outside of the crater.

Also Monday, the rover performed remote sensing observations between naps.

"After completing the drive out of the crater, the navigation camera imaged Opportunity's brand new view of the plains of Meridiani Planum," controllers reported Monday.

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

"Eagle Crater" is approximately 22 meters (72 feet) in diameter. Opportunity has thoroughly examined the exposed bedrock and soil samples within the crater over the past two months, providing scientists with enough data to determine that the site was once drenched in water.

Opportunity's long-range goal is driving across the plains to a much larger crater in the distance.

Another image from Opportunity showing the plains of Meridiani. Credit: NASA/JPL