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Mars rover Opportunity hits 10-year mark (pictures)

Launched on July 7, 2003, with a modest goal to carry out 90 Martian days of exploration, NASA's little robotic wanderer far exceeded its original mission objectives.

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James Martin
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Mars Exploration Rover-2

In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Mars Exploration Rover-2 (MER-2), better known as Opportunity, undergoes testing prior to its launch 10 years ago on July 7, 2003.
Opportunity finally landed on the Meridiani Planum, an open plain just off the equator of Mars, on January 25, 2004, three weeks after its twin rover, Spirit.
With an original mission to explore the red planet for a duration of 90 Martian days, called sols, the robotic explorer has far exceeded its original mission objectives.
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Opportunity aboard its Delta II launch vehicle

The Delta II launch vehicle carrying Opportunity is seen here as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 7, 2003.
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Sol 1

After landing on January 25, 2004, this image was one of the first views returned from NASA's Opportunity rover.
"Opportunity has touched down in a bizarre, alien landscape," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and its twin, Spirit. "I'm flabbergasted. I'm astonished. I'm blown away."
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Protective heat shield

On January 2, 2005, the panoramic camera onboard Opportunity captured this image of the protective heat shield which had helped the spacecraft descend through the martian atmosphere.
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Front Hazcam, sol 3353

This recent image was captured on sol 3353 and shows the instrument arm against the backdrop of the martian landscape.
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Sol 3353

This image of the martian landscape was taken by Opportunity's Navigation Camera on sol 3353, Earth date June 30, 2013.
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Trench wall at Meridiani Planum

The microscopic imager aboard Opportunity captured this close-up view of the rocky surface in 2004, showing shiny, spherical objects embedded within the trench wall at Meridiani Planum.
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Iron meteorite on Mars

This iron meteorite -- now known as Heat Shield Rock -- discovered on Mars by Opportunity in 2005, is the first meteorite of any type ever found on another planet, identified by the onboard spectrometers as being composed primarily of iron and nickel.
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Examining Heat Shield Rock

Here, in an image captured by the Left Front Hazard Camera, the Mars rover Opportunity examines Heat Shield Rock on sol 349 of its mission.
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The martian landscape

This image of the martian landscape was taken by Opportunity's navigation camera on sol 3353, Earth date June 30, 2013.
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Panoramic camera, sol 3353

This image of the martian landscape was taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera on sol 3353, Earth date June 30, 2013.
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Microscopic imager, sol 3332

This close-up view of the rocky martian landscape was taken by Opportunity's microscopic imager on sol 3332.
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A thick, dark-colored coating

The thick, dark-colored coating on this rock is one of many in the area covered with a similarly strange something. Scientists believe the coating could be remnants of a layer that was changed by the action of water and weather, or it could be a layer of rock that melted when a meteor impacted Mars.
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East toward 'Nobbys Head'

As of sol 3344, when this image was captured, Earth day June 20, 2013, the solar array energy production was 497 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity of 0.801 and a solar array dust factor of 0.626.
From a journal entry on the Opportunity mission site: "The science team decided to head east toward the feature called 'Nobbys Head' for a closer look with the rover driving just under 108 feet."
The total odometry for the mission is 22.89 miles.
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Climbing out of Victoria Crater

Climbing out of the 800-meter-diameter Victoria Crater, Opportunity's navigation camera captured this view looking back into the crater just after finishing a 6.8-meter drive that brought Opportunity out onto level ground again on August 28, 2008.
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Opportunity's solar panels

Opportunity's solar panels made it into this view of the landscape which was taken by the navigation camera on sol 3345.
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Mars on sol 3348, June 27, 2013

Opportunity's panoramic camera captured this rocky view of Mars on sol 3348, June 27, 2013.
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Navigation camera, sol 3346

Opportunity's navigation camera captured this desolate landscape on sol 3346, Earth day June 22, 2013.
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Tiny craters on Meridiani Planum

These two craters, each smaller than a foot in diameter and less than one-half inch deep, were discovered by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity.
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Recent Opportunity traverse map

This map of Opportunity's travels shows the rover's activity as of sol 3348, or Earth day June 27, 2013.

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