by Cat Ellen, contributing writer

Oppy’s Anniversary Panorama

The panarama from Cape Tribulation, from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

The panorama from Cape Tribulation, from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

The “little rover that could” continues to mark newer and more impressive milestones. Just three weeks before the 11th anniversary of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s landing in January 2004, the rover captured a panorama photo from one of the highest elevations of its travels. In these 11 years on Mars, Opportunity has driven just under 26 miles, not only the furtherest distance of any off-Earth vehicle, but impressive for a rover that was originally slated for only a three month long mission.

Opportunity climbed to a raised section of the rim of Endeavour Crater, and this panorama spans the 14-mile-wide crater and extends to another crater on the horizon. The climb from the lowest portion of the rim, Botany Bay, to the highest point at Cape Tribulation totals approximately 440 feet in elevation.

Detail from Opportunity's panorama photo (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

Detail from Opportunity’s panorama photo (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

Opportunity extended a robotic arm so that the U.S. flag would be visible in the panorama photo. The aluminum cable guard on the rover’s rock abrasion tool was built from aluminum recovered from the site of the Twin Towers after the attack on September 11, 2001. The flag is intended as a memorial to the victims of Sept. 11. The rock abrasion tool was being built by workers at Honeybee robotics, less than a mile from the World Trade Center, during September 2001.

Photos from both Spirit and Opportunity for the past eleven years can be found on the NASA website.

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