Mars rover snapped from orbit

Opportunity at Victoria CraterThe most powerful camera ever sent to another world has taken an amazing photo of one of Nasa’s rovers on Mars.

The robot Explorer, called Opportunity, is pictured at the rim of a spectacular crater on the Red Planet in the aerial shot.

Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took the stunning image with its HiRise camera on Tuesday, just days after it began scanning the planet.

HiRise is so powerful that it clearly reveals Opportunity and you can even see its tracks in the martian sand at the edge of Victoria Crater. The crater, a half-mile wide asteroid impact site, is also revealed in great detail from the probe, flying 185.6 miles (297km) above the surface.

Opportunity and its sister six-wheeled rover Spirit are still trundling about on Mars two years and nine months after they arrived there. Opportunity – the size of a small car – has driven more than five miles to reach Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum, near the Martian equator. Their original mission was scheduled to last just 90 days.

Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory was thrilled with the Mars pictures. And he said today: “Stay tuned. If you think this HiRise image is spectacular, just wait.”

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