Mars rover's landing hardware still visible 13 years later

Revisit the very beginning of the Mars Opportunity rover's epic mission with a new NASA view of its landing platform and parachute.

The landing platform looks like a bright dot.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

When NASA's Mars Opportunity rover touched down on the Red Planet back in 2004, it left its mark on the planet's landscape. Earlier this month, another NASA project, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, documented the extent of its impact with a new view of the landing site, lander included.

NASA highlighted the fresh look on Friday, sharing an image of a landmark known as Eagle Crater, in which the landing platform is visible. The photo is the first color image of the landing site from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

The crater is just 72 feet (22 meters) across, but a bouncing trajectory took the lander right inside. Opportunity's parachute and backshell are also visible nearby. "The smattering of small craters on a broad plain is a reminder of the amazement expressed in 2004 about Opportunity achieving a 'hole-in-one' landing," says NASA.

Opportunity started with a mere three-month mission, but the rover is still actively roaming Mars and sending back data 13 years later. The Eagle Crater and the landing debris left behind will forever mark the beginning of that incredible journey.